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Virtual Facilitation #5: How to create engagement in virtual meetings

How do we create (more) engagement in virtual meetings with a group that’s still pretty unfamiliar with good Zoom meetings? And that likely means most of your participants.

If you can do that, you’ll immediately stand out from the cavalcade of everyone and their uncle who are now offering online sessions.

For more on warm-up games see… How to warm up a virtual meeting – Virtual facilitation #4

Here’s one example of how you might go about it – which indicates the type of thinking that serves us well when we go beyond the basics.

Step One. Ask everyone to switch their videos off for a moment. Tell the group how that feels for you as the presenter or facilitator. Something like: ‘I can’t see if anyone is paying any attention at all. I have no idea who is still here and who has wandered off. It’s like speaking into an empty room, or – worse – a room that gives me random unpleasant surprises.’

Step Two. Now ask everyone (who can) to put their video on, so we can all see everyone on camera. And you can say: ‘This feels safer for me, and I hope for you. We can see each other, which is a bit more like meeting together in a real room. I don’t mind if you stretch, yawn or wander off – it’s normal and gives us all useful signals about the level of energy and engagement.’

Yes, it’s more intimate and that may not suit all sessions or all of your participants. Nonetheless, it’s a direction to go in if you do want more engagement and involvement. And if those are not your objectives, you could perhaps consider recording a lecture or presentation without a live audience. As in the real world, as we may remember it, the format should always follow the purpose. Start by considering if there’s value (for you and for them) in having these people spend their time at this event.

What are your tactics for making sure your virtual groups are engaged at the start – and then throughout – your sessions.

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