If we don’t warm up virtual participants before our meetings begin, we will likely get off to a low energy start. This is especially true if the virtual meeting is large (15+ people).
Think about a large meeting you have attended where there was complete silence and then suddenly the meeting began. What were you doing in the minutes before the meeting host started talking? I’ll bet you were checking your email or working on something else.
If we don’t actively make an effort to warm up the meeting participants prior to the kick-off time, people are less likely to turn on their video cameras and very likely to be checking emails and be distracted when the meeting begins.
In order to increase the energy and engagement from the kick start, here are several things you can do.
Encourage people to join the meeting room 10-15 minutes early.
- When everyone logs on early, they have a chance to work through any tech issues. It also sets you up to be able to start on time.
During the 10 minutes before the meeting begins do any or all of the following:
- Welcome people by name as they enter.
- Make small talk to get them interacting with you and each other.
- Ask people to test their mics and video.
- Ask people to answer an icebreaker question in chat. (Where are you from? What is the weather where you are? What is your favorite vacation spot?)
- Play appropriate, upbeat music.
- Give people a 5-minute and 2-minute warning. (“We will be starting in 2 minutes.”)
- Turn on your video and encourage them to turn on theirs.
Just a few simple engagements before the start time will help people focus, get them comfortable talking, and start your meeting off on an upbeat, energetic note.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and the Forward, community, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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