Virtual Meeting Tip #1: Start with an engaging question

July 27, 2020

Aimee Viniard-WeidemanHow many times have you or someone on your team been distracted or disengaged in an online meeting? Perhaps you were reading emails, working on another project, even doing some online shopping?

With a little planning and effort, it is possible to have engaging meetings that keep participants active and focused. To help improve your next online meeting, try using these tips:

Start with a question

How you start the meeting sets the tone for the rest of the meeting. So, start your meeting with a question that gives each person a chance to speak.

The question could be personal and reflective: “What made you smile this week?” “What is one thing you are doing to care for yourself?” “What gives you hope during this time?”  Or your question could relate to the meeting topic: “What is one idea you’ve had since we last met?

If your group is too large to have everyone speak in the full group, you can:

  • Send them into breakout rooms so everyone has a chance to speak in the smaller groups; then bring them back to the large group and ask for a few brief comments before moving on with your agenda
  • Ask everyone to write their response in the chat box or on a shared document that all can see and access

Keep asking questions, and listen

After you have made sure everyone had a chance to speak or write their answer at the start of the meeting, continue to invite active participation during your meeting by:

  • Building discussion time into the agenda and sharing the agenda with participants
  • Asking reflective questions such as “What are the strengths of this idea?” “What could improve this idea?
  • Keeping track of who has responded on a participant list, so you call on people who have not spoken

Watch Community Matters for additional tips on leading virtual meetings that matter!

For more information about virtual meeting training or facilitation, contact Aimee Viniard-Weideman aimeevw@iastate.edu.

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