increase employee engagement in remote meetings

How to Keep Remote and Hybrid Meetings Simple, Short, and Fun – Increase Employee Engagement in Remote Meetings is Part 5 of our series on Remote Meetings:

Increase Employee Engagement in Remote Meetings

Employee engagement is important for any company, but it’s even more important for companies that employ remote and/or hybrid work models.  Unfortunately, promoting employee engagement can also be more challenging in remote and hybrid situations.

Employee engagement is driven by the emotional connection employees have with your company and its mission, the people they work with and for, and the work they do.

When engagement is strong, employees perform at higher levels, focus more on quality, and work harder to exceed customer expectations.

When engagement is weak, more employees do only what is required or what some people call “quiet quitting” or “coasting.”

Our Executive Coaches consistently see that meetings can have a deep impact (positive or negative) on employee and leader engagement.

Long, boring, inefficient remote meetings that are only about giving information, “tell meetings,” can put a strain on the emotional connection employees feel toward their leader and the company.

If you have a lot of long “tell” meetings where employees cannot participate in the discussion, your team members may disengage with the company mission, the people who lead them, and the customers they serve.

However, with a little planning you can ensure that your virtual and hybrid meetings are simple, short, and fun; and therefore increase employee engagement in remote meetings.

Here are some tips to help you create better virtual meetings.

Schedule Meetings Early in the Day

Most people are more energetic in the morning. In addition, focus and analytical thinking tend to be sharpest early in the day, so that’s the time for problem-solving, process improvement, and planning meetings.

Creativity can peak in the afternoon, so consider scheduling brainstorming meetings mid-day to early afternoon.

Select a Narrow Scope for Remote Meetings

If you try to cover broad topics or too many topics, participants can become confused or overwhelmed as you move through the topics and subtopics. A narrow remote meeting scope will help participants stay focused and alert.

Hold Shorter Meetings More Frequently Rather Than Long Meetings

It’s much easier for your team members to stay focused and productive for 30 minutes than it is for 2-5 hours.

As a bonus, virtual meeting participants tend to be more succinct in shorter meetings. The “time lock” of a 30-minute meeting creates a sense of urgency that cannot be duplicated in a long meeting.

Let Remote and Hybrid Meetings End Early

Don’t fill the allotted meeting time just for the sake of filling it. If you can end a meeting early, your team will welcome the gift of time. Ending early will also show that you respect and value their time. Being respected builds employee commitment and engagement.

Stick to the Agenda and Use a “Parking Lot” for New Topics

We’ve all been in meetings that wander due to lack of a leader’s meeting management skill or lack of structure. It makes us feel trapped, irritated that we’re not being productive, or angry that we’re wasting time and unable to get to the mountain of paperwork waiting on our desks. Avoid this issue by creating a list of new topics that come up (a “Parking Lot“) and save them for a future meeting.

Minimize the Length of Your Presentations

The longer the presentation, the greater the risk of losing people’s attention. Instead, cut to the chase:

  • Here’s the important information
  • Here’s why it’s important
  • Here’s what it means for us.

Then ask your team for their thoughts.

Have Multiple Participants Present Chunks of the Topic

Try having each team member present part of the information. This will create ownership and engagement for the participants. This approach lends variety, changing energy, and new perspectives to the meeting, which will make it more interesting.  It also gives your team a sense of ownership of the important issues the team faces.

Keep the Remote/Hybrid Meeting Moving and Lively

Participants are more likely to get bored and distracted during remote meetings than during in-person meetings. It’s the meeting leader’s job to make the meeting engaging.

Keep the energy of your meetings upbeat. Support active participation, listen well, and celebrate great ideas that emerge. Celebrate the teams successes as well. In addition, almost all the tips in this post will help you keep your meetings moving and lively.

Make the Meeting a Conversation Rather Than a Lecture

The more conversational a meeting is, the more engaged the participants will be. If the conversation results in a decision, it also promotes a sense of ownership.

Some parts of the meeting will be information sharing, but intersperse “tell” and conversation segments as much as possible. When planning a meeting, think about the flow of the activities and how they will affect the participants’ energy.

Assign a Timekeeper to Keep the Meeting on Track

If you assign a presenter 10 minutes, hold them to it — the timekeeper can give them a 2-minute warning and then let them know when the time is up.

If the presenter doesn’t get through everything, the team can agree to let the presenter continue the presentation and move other topics to the next meeting or the presenter can share what’s left via email or in the meeting chat.

Level the Playing Field for Hybrid Meetings

If part of your team is participating from home and part is in the office, it can be easy for the on-site group to dominate the meeting. The facilitator should make a point of calling on the at-home participants so they have a chance to share their ideas or issues.

Some companies have on-site participants join from their offices, so that everyone is, in effect, remote. Our coaches have found that their clients find this to be a very effective approach.

Recognize Success

Recognition and acknowledgment are essential to employee engagement in general and will definitely increase employee engagement in remote meetings. Meetings are a great time and place to share employee successes and milestone completion.

You can celebrate by all members eating their favorite snack, throwing confetti in your office, sending a gift to open during the meeting, or sincerely giving a detailed thank you (there are many ways to celebrate or give recognition).

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

You don’t have to be a comedian to interject a little fun into a meeting. A quick Google search will reveal plenty of icebreakers and games you can incorporate into your meetings. Many of these activities give your team a chance to share something about themselves, which adds a team-building element to the fun.

Throw a Virtual Office Party from Time to Time

Virtual office parties are a great way to celebrate accomplishments or build your team. A well-planned Virtual Party can promote team spirit, boost morale, and give team members a nice break from their typical day.

Virtual office parties should not be tacked on to the end of a meeting. Parties should be entirely separate from meetings.

Managing the Quality of Remote Meetings is the Key to Remote Team Success

Whether your team is 100% remote or hybrid, virtual meetings should be about much more than just sharing information.

Meetings give you an opportunity to create and embody the company culture, promote a sense of empowerment, and enhance employee engagement. For more ideas on how to increase employee engagement in remote (and in-person) meetings, see my blog on meeting management tools.

Need help implementing these ideas for remote meeting engagement? Set up a Leadership Coaching consultation with us today.

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With Our Consultations Coach: Vicki Rich, MBA, ACC (BIO)
With Our Consultations Coach:  Vicki Rich, MBA, ACC