Remote communication

7 Ways to Make Your Online Meetings More Engaging

Published on June 25, 2021 • Updated on August 12, 2022 • About 10 min. read

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In a perfect world, our most important meetings and events would be held in person. But if the Covid-19 pandemic taught us anything, it's that there are times when “business as usual” isn’t practical.

While some would prefer meeting face to face, it's not always possible. Plus, there are many times when it’s actually more beneficial and cost-effective to host an online meeting.

And with online meetings, you might just find there are more ways for your team to engage, participate, and interact. Let’s take a look at why.

50 Ice Breakers to Make your Meetings Fun & Engaging
50 Ice Breakers For Virtual Meetings
50 icebreakers, questions and games for virtual meetings
Ebook Ebooks

50 Ice Breakers For Virtual Meetings

Discover 50 ice breakers questions, activities, and games that will make your virtual meetings fun and engaging.

Read more

Why you should host engaging online meetings

Online meetings open up so many more possibilities than traditional in-person meetings.

For starters, online meetings can make you and your team more agile. You can tailor your online meetings to fit any business need.

Have teams in multiple cities across the country? Or even the globe? Virtual meetings act as a bridge between your company’s many locations. Even if you are a local operation with a remote workforce, online meetings allow you to meet at a moment's notice, saving both time and resources.

To that same end, a virtual meeting is a far more cost-effective way to bring your employees together.

You don’t have to drop thousands of dollars on airfare and hotel. You don’t have to rent extra meeting space to accommodate large groups. And if you opt for a predominantly remote workforce, you don’t even have to lease as much office space.

Yet, online meetings still allow you to bring your staff together for your most critical gatherings and team-building moments.

Ultimately, online meetings are just easier to manage and coordinate. You can host five people or thousands. Aside from a bad internet connection, a few things will get in the way of your video team meeting from taking place.

Of course, to take advantage of the benefits that online meetings provide and ensure your employees get just as much from them as they do face-to-face gatherings, they must be engaging.

If your virtual meetings aren’t engaging, it’s very easy for attendees to tune out.

Our top remote team meeting ideas

So just how do you make your remote online meetings more interesting and engaging for your team members?

It’s not as difficult as you might think.

In fact, many of the same strategies you might use to liven up your in-person events are applicable online. Even better, the platforms you use online offer a handful of features not otherwise available when meeting in a traditional, face-to-face setting.

Build a great online meeting tool stack

The first step to more engaging online meetings is choosing a platform or collection of platforms that fit your business communication needs.

Real, genuine engagement only happens if you give your team the tools they need to collaborate effectively and engage with each other. Regardless of your industry, there's a solution or solutions out there that will bring your employees - and client and business partners closer together.

At Livestorm, for example, we use Asana for asynchronous project management. We employ Slack for our daily communication needs and, of course, we use our own video engagement tool for all of our meetings and internal presentations.

Consider what you’ll need to make your online meeting more dynamic.

Will you need to accommodate large audiences on a regular basis? Do you need to see reactions? Or do your meetings involve media or screen sharing? What about a Q&A function?

Whatever the requirements, take stock of your needs and what’s most important to bring your team together. Then find the virtual meeting platform that meets those needs.

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Plan the agenda in advance and with engagement in mind

Online meetings are perfect for bringing groups of all sizes together under the same “roof.” One drawback, however, is they can easily get off track.

Providing an agenda to all participants is one way to keep all attendees focused. Have employees be responsible for a specific part of the agenda. This promotes collaboration throughout the group as a whole.

To boost productivity further, use the questions tab in your meeting software to host a Q&A. The chat function works well for this too.

Schedule recurring meetings at the same time so that every attendee remains on the same page, regardless of where or what time zone they’re attending from.

Use meeting icebreakers and games

Many businesses have grown quite familiar with online meetings over the past year. Even so, for many, there’s still an element of awkwardness that comes with not being in the same room with peers or clients.

Meeting icebreakers help break that tension before your meeting.

It’s no stretch to say there are thousands of ideas for icebreakers. A few of our favorite to start your meeting off on a positive note include:

  • The “If you” game. Ask your participants questions such as “If you could go anywhere…” or “could eat only one food…” or “won a million dollars.”
  • Share a GIF or Share a Meme. As part of your agenda, have participants ready to share their favorite GIF or Meme (either all-time or for that week or month) with the group. This also works with a favorite picture or random picture they’ve taken on their phone that week.
  • What’s Your Theme Song? It's simple and fun and helps others learn just a little bit more about their hopes or dreams, or favorite tunes (or even delusions of grandeur).

Feature visual elements

Virtual meetings are the ideal place to let your tech take center stage and add interactive and engaging elements to the proceedings. Whatever your meeting topic, try to incorporate visual elements every chance you get. Sharing your screen, uploading slides, or incorporating a video or presentation keeps things interesting and your audience attentive.

Promote a fully immersive and participatory vibe by encouraging all attendees to turn on their cameras.

Conduct fun interactive polls

Live polls are a fun way to get people thinking, clicking, and checking out the results. You can set up your online meeting polls before or during your meeting, and attendees will find them in the sidebar.

Once a poll gets started, how individuals vote is kept private for the audience, but you’ll be able to see the overall results accumulate as the votes roll in.

You can use your polls as a fun way to:

  • Test your audience on a topic of your choice (“Who was Huck Finn?”)
  • Come to a group decision (“What shall we look at next?”)
  • To get feedback on the meeting itself (“What did you enjoy most about that video?”)
  • Learn more about the attendees (“What was your main reason for coming here today?”)

Use your live polls as a way to punctuate your meeting and change things up a little. By keeping your questions simple and accessible, you’ll get the best levels of interaction.

Designate tasks and responsibilities

Just because you’re the host, doesn’t mean you have to do all the hard work.

Getting attendees involved in the nuts and bolts of your meeting’s organization gives them a vested interest in the meeting’s success, motivates them to make a bigger contribution towards its overall positive atmosphere, and helps create a sense of involvement among all the participants.

Also, it’s more efficient and dynamic to share the load.

So give others some of the hosting responsibilities and get different members of the team to create the agenda, present topics, nominate people to ask questions, take notes, and summarize key points.

You could even use a live poll to decide who does what for the next meeting!

Ask concept-checking questions

Sometimes you’ll present a topic, get involved in a discussion point, cover some key ideas, or even arrive at concrete conclusions – and you’re just not sure if everyone fully gets the point.

This isn’t a criticism – maybe you didn’t explain something clearly enough, assumed they had knowledge of an area when they didn’t, or maybe they just got distracted – it happens.

Concept-checking questions will quickly give you the chance to check people’s understanding of the topic before you move on to whatever’s next on the agenda. Plus, if concept-checking questions become a regular part of your meetings, it’ll encourage people to stay engaged throughout.

To be effective, you should ask simple closed questions that leave no room for ambiguity (and always change up who you ask, too).

For example:

  • Whose job is it to do… this week?
  • When is… due?
  • What are the three goals for… this month?
  • Why are we working on… tomorrow?

These aren’t designed to be challenging brain-teasers, concept-checking questions aren’t meant to call people out. They’re to make sure everyone’s engaged in the relevant topic and understands the information, what to do, and what or expect.

Add gamification elements

What effectively amounts to adding game-like elements to your virtual meeting or presentation, gamification adds a fun, unexpected element to an otherwise straightforward meeting.

Gameplay execution may include competitions or accumulation of points or earning of prizes and rewards. You can pair attendees off into teams to work on answering questions or solving problems.

The key is to prompt attendees to keep their engagement high in order to earn rewards or further collaborate with others taking part in the meeting.

Fun features like live polls and emoji reactions can compel team members to get up off the sidelines.

A few more examples of how to gamify your next online meeting or virtual event include:

  • Prizes for those who show up and log into the meeting on time
  • Incentivizing questions, to promote people asking questions
  • Conducting peer-voted photo contests (even better if the photo is related to the event or meeting topic), in which you earn points for submitting, voting, and winning
  • Coordinating team building or department quizzes
  • Creating digital scavenger hunts
  • Posting a digital leaderboard for all to see who's leading or raising their engagement levels

Gamification not only promotes coveted user engagement but also enhances their virtual meeting experience. The higher quality experience you provide the greater long-term engagement you’ll experience from your audience.

Be mindful of remote meeting etiquette

Though they may be remote, and you and your team are often sitting at home, a remote meeting is not the time to forget your professionalism. Quite the opposite actually.

The camera doesn’t lie, and modern-day microphones are extremely sensitive at picking up every single noise.

Tidy up space where you plan to attend the meeting to avoid sneaking lunch or chewing gum while in session. In addition, utilize headphones and use the mute whenever you're not speaking.

It's often extremely obvious when you’re distracted in a virtual meeting. [Virtual meeting etiquette] (https://livestorm.co/blog/virtual-meeting-etiquette) means you respect others in the meeting the same way you would if they were sitting in the seat right next to you.

Follow up after

Finally, much as you would any in-person gathering, send a follow-up once the meeting is over to reiterate the discussion, ensure the plan is clear, and further recognize standout participants or contest or game-winners.

One of the best features of online meetings is the ability to both record and transcribe them. Send these items out to those who may have been unable to attend or new hires or business partners to catch them up on your firm's current initiatives.

Even better, if your meeting was a company-wide event - such as a virtual conference or product launch - pull the best individual moments to share on social media or for the team to engage with and further rally around.

breaking the ice
50 Ice Breakers For Virtual Meetings
50 icebreakers, questions and games for virtual meetings
Ebook Ebooks

50 Ice Breakers For Virtual Meetings

Discover 50 ice breakers questions, activities, and games that will make your virtual meetings fun and engaging.

Read more

How to encourage participation in virtual meetings?

1. Set expectations

Before your virtual meeting gets started, decide what its objectives are, how you’ll structure the topics within the allotted time, and the timings for each segment – whether it’s a presentation, discussion, or fun activity.

Once you’ve assembled all these ideas into an accessible format, you have your agenda (go you!). Make sure all attendees have the chance to view the agenda before the meeting starts so that they can decide what they want to ask, share, or debate.

Sharing your expectations of what your meetings will achieve is the first step to getting all the team involved and contributing.

2. Have people identify themselves

Get your meetings started with a round of introductions, giving everyone a minute to say who they are and what they do. And if your attendees already know each other, give everyone a minute to say what they’ve been working on, or what part of the meeting they’re most interested in.

A simple intro between everyone is great for team collaboration – people are way more inclined to speak up if they’ve already spoken once to the group.

3. Let people take ownership

If your virtual meeting is to cover a lot of ground, share the hosting responsibilities around the team. Ownership of a topic, especially one that has a clear objective outlined from the off, will have the whole team pushing for positive outcomes and helping each other out.

Also, what better way to show people your faith in them than by trusting in their ability to lead the way? So give more responsibility to others, sit back, and watch your team bloom.

4. Set aside time for normal conversation

Meetings are especially important for remote teams – when else will everyone be in the same space together (albeit a virtual one)? So as well as time dedicated to focusing on the issues of the day, make sure there’s a chance to chew the fat.

Direct your team towards the private chats in the sidebar, add free-chat breaks to your meeting agendas, and lead the way by asking about the team’s weekend, plans ahead, that movie or series.

Getting the team together isn’t just to get solid solutions and deliverables in place – it’s to bond, interact, and learn about each other, too.

5. Have a plan B

Even with the best plans and intentions, sometimes things just don’t work out how you’d hoped – maybe a key individual can’t attend, or there’s some crucial information missing, or people are just stuck for ideas. No problem. Have a plan B up your sleeve so you can still utilize your team’s time together.

There are all kinds of possibilities, many of them we’ve talked about above, but here’s one extra: interactive whiteboards.

Virtual whiteboards are brilliant for group participation, taking notes, and brainstorming ideas. And who knows – maybe you’ll be grateful things didn’t work out as planned, after all?

Use interactive tools for virtual team building

Online meetings today can be truly interactive events that bring teams together, no matter how far apart they may be. And if you value engagement and team building, the tools are there for you to use:

  • Interactive whiteboards Great for brainstorming, notes, and team games (Pictionary, anyone?)
  • Live polls Let the team decide
  • Media sharing Videos, slides, songs, memes
  • Private chat Ideal for icebreakers, short breaks, and gossip
  • Q&As No better way to grill an expert
  • Reaction emojisTo let them know how you’re really feeling

So all you need is a video engagement platform that draws all these interactive features together – and some fun-loving spirit and creativity to really get going with it.

Make your online meetings fun!

Use Livestorm’s interactive features to engage your team

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50 Ice Breakers For Virtual Meetings
50 icebreakers, questions and games for virtual meetings
Ebook Ebooks

50 Ice Breakers For Virtual Meetings

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