How can you keep people’s attention in an online meeting, such as a conference call? It’s a perpetual challenge which has led to many an internet meme.
The latest I received was this – someone reckons he’s built a gadget that listens to his conference calls, pings him when his name’s mentioned, and covers for him with an automated “sorry, I was on mute” message. I’m not actually sure if it’s a joke or not – and if it is a joke, whether it’s funny.
So, what is the best way to keep people’s attention? Because it really is possible: the other week we had 150 people online, in an event that ran for more than 12 hours, and nobody wanted to tear themselves away!
My top tips:
- Add video. People love seeing each others’ faces. If you possibly can, use a technology where everyone can see everyone, and where everyone’s picture is the same size (such as Zoom).
- Create a level playing field. If everyone’s in the same room expect for one remote worker, they’re going to have an especially hard time staying engaged. Could everyone dial in from home or wherever they are?
- Use Liberating Structures rather than old-fashioned agendas. They’re designed to drive maximum engagement, maximum innovation, minimum boredom. Most of them can be made to work online.
- Keep conversation groups small. Just as at a dinner party, a conversation of three people will hang together: once you have seven people it’s hard for everyone to actively participate.
- Make it relevant. Make sure everyone knows why they are there and how the conversation will benefit them. You could start by asking the Clean Language question, “What would you like to have happen?”
- Make it real. An atmosphere in which people can say, “I’m slightly distracted because I think the doorbell’s going to go,” is likely to be the kind of place where people can speak up about other things – such as the brilliant idea they’ve just had.
If you’d like to find out more about how I help teams to make this happen, why not contact me?