5 ways to make your video meetings more engaging and inclusive
You’re logged onto a video meeting with seven other people. It’s supposed to be a collaborative session to bounce ideas off each other, but one person has taken over the conversation and no one else can get a word in edgewise. Most of the group have stopped trying: half have their cameras off and you can see at least one colleague scrolling on Twitter. Nobody has a voice in the conversation, so nobody is engaged and nothing is getting done.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Companies waste about $25,000 per year per employee on pointless meetings. And if you’re responsible for running meetings, that is a big, expensive problem.
But how do you solve it? At Gatheround, we have years of experience making it rewarding and worthwhile to take part in video meetings. Here’s what we’ve learned about creating an inclusive environment.
- Encourage quiet folks to speak up. To get more participants engaged, try: providing lots of ways to participate (from video to chat to reactions and polling), incorporating fun icebreakers and trivia quizzes that are low-stakes and prime people to join into the conversation, and regularly shifting into small group or 1-on-1 breakout rooms where it’s easier to speak freely and harder to tune out.
- Encourage others to talk a bit less. Do you have one or two extroverts that tend to take over? Pass the mic by creating timed, turn-based conversations where each person gets the same amount of time to respond to a thought or question. (Fun fact: In Gatheround, our Group Share activity automates this process!) And if you or others need uninterrupted time to present, consider sandwiching the presentation between an icebreaker conversation and an opportunity for Q&A to balance out the extended focus on a single voice.
- When in doubt, add structure. If more than three or four people are meeting, you probably need an agenda to keep things on track and set expectations for participants. Gatheround uses playable agendas (like a streaming playlist of activities) to move from one part of the agenda to the next. This reduces mental load for participants and hosts and makes it easier to focus on engaging and interacting with the topic at hand.
- Put someone in charge. In a similar vein — meetings work better when it’s clear to everyone who is in charge of facilitating. This is not necessarily the most senior person in the room or the person who is presenting the most; it’s the person in charge of keeping track of where you are in the agenda, whose turn it is to talk, and how much time you have left. If you don’t normally assign an emcee, it might be time to start.
- Have fun (but not mandatory fun.) People do want to have fun at work, but we all hate forced fun. Our recommendation? Don’t set fun apart. Instead of setting up a happy hour or team bonding session, weave socialization into every meeting, even (or maybe especially) the really boring ones. It’s often as simple as adding a silly poll here, a 5-minute conversation break there, and a group photo or great music video at the end to cap things off — work is more meaningful and engaging when everything we do has an element of joy.
Ready to make your meetings more inclusive and engaging today? You don’t have to go it alone.
- Gatheround is built for participation — and our new Room features make it more inclusive and flexible than ever.
- Our curated library is packed with best-in-class agenda templates that draw on how meetings are run at some of the most innovative companies in the world.