​Virtual meetings are now replacing the quintessential office stand-ups, but a lot of us are still not comfortable with the concept. It is essential that everyone feels at ease and feels part of the conversation.

But when it comes to virtual meetings, engagement is perhaps the biggest challenge for team leaders and attendees. Virtual settings often feel impersonal since there is a physical and psychological distance, and hence we all need to be as creative as possible. Here are some things I have learned about making virtual meetings more engaging during the current WFH stint.

For the starters:

  • Ensure everyone understands how to use the technology and has the right applications in place

  • Have one daily morning and evening call as essential to make everyone feel like a team

  • Icebreakers and introductions are important, particularly when you have new members joining in

  • Convey warmth and presence even virtually, which is best done by turning on the video functionality

  • Ask everyone to share something, giving reconditioning and voice to everyone is more important than ever now. Ensuring that each of the participants gets attention as if they were in the same room

  • Use the right tools, such as a chatbox to field questions or polls for involving every participant

  • Smart Tip: Ask specific questions to people; open-ended questions to a remote team often results in "dead air" or multiple people talking at once.

Go the extra mile:

  • Start the morning with a coffee with the team; you can even schedule virtual meetings to match the evening coffee timing

  • Fun Activity Ideas:

    • Ask a team member to cheer lead a fun activity, arrange a pub family quiz from home or encourage participants to give a quick tour of their surroundings so that everyone knows what to expect (not every team member can have a dedicated study, of course)

    • Hold a happy hour once or twice a week where people can share their personal experiences rather than discuss professional stuff

    • Another fresh initiative is to have a team dance during lunch breaks to help people connect and have fun

    • And once a while, you can also arrange a yoga or exercise class or even a team game over video

    • A lot of people are exploring the idea of Friday fun meetings like virtual pubs where they bring their drinks to the call.

A proper training session on virtual meeting etiquette can make your team well-prepared to breeze through them and make others feel equally comfortable. And don't make it a one-time training; rather keep refreshing the etiquette with weekly or fortnightly training sessions.

An engaged team is smarter and more productive and going the extra mile with virtual meetings surely helps!