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Engaging and inclusive online meetings

Some of us love it, some of us struggle to embrace it. One thing is for sure, that it is an art to conduct inclusive and engaging online meetings. How to create great meetings online is a question we get often, so we have some advice on how to improve online meetings to ensure constructive, engaging and inclusive meetings.

1. If you are the host act as a host. Just like at home where you try to make everybody comfortable, you should act as the host in online meetings. Welcome everyone and make sure to take the time to acknowledge everyone in the meeting so no one feels left out or thinks they can hide behind the screen. If you have less than 10 people in the meeting take the time for everyone to share something. It could be a success story from work, something that made them smile before they joined the meeting or something they are particularly proud of – it should not take more than 30 sec each. When everyone has said something in the beginning of the meeting, they are more likely to actively participate throughout the meeting.

2. Set the scene. Explain clearly and precisely what the purpose of the meeting is and how you want everyone to participate. This is a very important step of online meetings. Even though online meetings have been the norm for almost 3 years we are still often unsure of how to behave in meetings. Often people don’t feel the same obligation to actively participate in online meetings or they all talk at the same time. So set guiding principles for how you get talking time. It could be raising your hand, taking turns etc.

3. Ask questions to include all participants and ensure engagement throughout the meeting. If only one person is talking throughout the meeting it will disengage participants and you risk losing the focus of participants. If you want to make sure you get input from everyone prepare relevant questions before the meeting. The right questions can ignite relevant and fruitful discussions.

4. Everyone should participate in the same way, so you don’t have mixed meetings. Meaning that either you are all participating online, or you are all meeting physically. I think many of us have tried to participate online while half the participants were meeting in a meeting room. What happens is that when you are online you don’t feel as part of the meeting because the participants in the meeting room forget to include the ones joining online.

We hope this will help you increase the engagement and output of your online meetings. Online meetings can be as engaging and productive as face-to-face meetings but it requires more from the host. Good luck with your meetings.

(Author: Sine Ravn)

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