How To Encourage Virtual Participation During E-Conferences

It is normal to have several people distracted during face to face conferences itself. The chances increase drastically if it is a remote meeting, due to the influence it has on the mind and abundance of distractions. Now that several companies have embraced remote working as the new norm post-Coronavirus, the necessity of improving the quality of participation in virtual meetings is integral to ensure the same level of efficiency. Thankfully, with certain clever and strategic methods, one can improve attentiveness and collaboration in such situations.

The first step is to ensure that the participants are interested in the conversation. Sharing relevant shocking statistics, real life experiences, or facts could engage employees by increasing their level of intrigue. This will make them wish to know further about how this story relates to what is being said next. It does not have to be a long-drawn story – a minute or two would effectively solve the purpose, as it will psychologically attune the employees to take the proposal more seriously.

Another issue with online meetings can be the lack of responsibility participants may feel, which makes them less interested to contribute. This can be solved by assigning members certain responsibilities so that they stay alert and responsible. Some examples are:

  1. The Moderator: Creates, schedules, keeps time and moderates the meeting
  2. A Short-Hand: Writes down the necessary information or decisions that were discussed in the meeting and sends them to the involved participants
  3. The Prompter: Prompts silent members to give their opinion, or nudges them to interact

These ensure that members are always on their guard and are urged and encouraged to participate and not merely observe. However, members must take turns to assume other role each time to prevent monotony. This can be coupled with giving participants surprise group tasks, discussions or assignments during the virtual call. It will keep them “on their toes” and encourage the exchange of ideas rather than listening to a one-way lecture.

Another reason why participation is less in online meetings is because employees do not want to talk over each-other or are uncertain about when is the best time to talk. In situations like this, a platform where they can react with approve or disapprove buttons, polls, proposed questions or other symbols can be a great solution. It ensures that participants can share their perspectives without interrupting each-other and conserving time.

Lastly, although improving participation in virtual meetings is necessary in meetings, it should not be forced by leaders as it will be counterproductive. A balance must be maintained so that a natural flow of discussion may occur, and employees are comfortable in the conversation.

References :

  1. How to Get People to Actually Participate in Virtual Meetings, March 09, 2020, Harvard Business Review.