By now, chances are that you have attended at least one virtual meeting since the coronavirus pandemic began. In that case, you may have noticed that you get significantly more distracted and bored than you usually would if you were in a regular face to face meeting. You are by no means alone in this regard and most people get distracted quicker when they are in the comfort of their own home rather than a professional setting.
The question is how can you avoid people getting bored and distracted when you host your own meeting? In order to provide you with some solutions, below we have provided a few tips on how to host a compelling virtual meeting.
Remember the ten percent rule
The ten percent rule is the frustrating reality that no matter how much content you cover at any given time, people will generally forget roughly ninety percent of it within two days, and even more annoying is that the ten percent they do remember is completely random.
Because of this frustrating reality, you need to really catch your audience’s attention and make sure that everything is as clear as possible. The clearer the information is, the less distracted people are likely to get. Use interactive visuals to display each message, and then provide a concise explanation to give more detail. Things like videos, pictures, and virtual whiteboards are great tools that can be used to create additional engagement.
When you are speaking in a meeting, you want people to focus on you. This doesn’t mean you are being egocentric, but instead it that you simply want them to listen. If someone is not actively looking at you, then they likely aren’t properly listening. To avoid this, it is important that you are as exciting and energetic as possible, but it’s also a good idea to remove any distractions that you can. Using a virtual background is a great way to hide anything behind you that could be catching people’s eyes and you can find more information on Hello Background’s Zoom virtual backgrounds here. Whether you have children or pets running around behind you, or even if you just want to hide the messy room you didn’t want to clean up, virtual backgrounds are practically a necessity in today’s world of online meetings.
Be creative and interactive
One of the biggest problems with virtual meetings is that it is easy for people to see themselves as an audience member rather than an active participant. Because of this, you may need to remind them that it is, in fact, a meeting and not a webinar. Use the tools available to keep them interacting with you, for example, polls, screen sharing, and virtual whiteboards are great ways to encourage other members to interact with one another and it doesn’t involve you physically asking them to participate.
Use breakout groups
Breaking your meeting into discernible chunks will help to stop people from getting too bored and zoning out. A great method for boosting engagement is to use something called breakout groups. Group people into twos or threes and ask that they complete a certain task or discuss a certain concept. Using messaging software like Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp is advised as it allows people to work as a group without having to be in a call with one another. When the group has completed their task, pick someone from each group to summarise what they discussed.
Employ the 5-minute rule
The 5-minute rule refers to how long you spend on any single point or problem. Keep any discussion about any particular issue to 5 minutes or less otherwise people’s attention tends to falter. As we mentioned before, people get very easily distracted when they are in the comfort of their own home, so keeping discussions short is essential in having them retain information. Building on this concept, try to keep any meeting to 45 minutes or less and ideally around 30 minutes to prevent people from getting bored and distracted, and being less productive overall. In the event that you do need to go over 45 minutes, be sure to take plenty of breaks to keep people fresh and on top form during the meeting.