Like you, I’ve been working to adjust to a world of 100% meetings and most social interactions through my devices. Stress of the overall situation aside, it’s been fascinating to experiment and learn what’s working and not. Trust me, I’m still learning.
Since for those of you in sales, there is a strong chance that this remote environment will endure for a while given that even when companies welcome back their employees, how much longer will it be before they welcome you -- An outsider who just flew on a plane with 180 others to get to their front door?
Certainly, I welcome that day, but in the meantime, here are the best virtual meeting and engagement tips and ideas we’ve come across.
- Think about the purpose and desired outcome for the meeting. “There are four broad reasons to hold a meeting: to influence others, to make decisions, to solve problems, or to strengthen relationships. Since all of these are active processes, passive passengers in a meeting rarely do quality work.” (Harvard Business Review, How to Get People to Actually Participate in Virtual Meetings.) This is even more critical in a virtual environment, especially for sales conversations. Are your customers engaged? Multitasking?
- Be even more judicious on time. People have “Zoom Fatigue” (which is real. Check out TED.com, Zoom fatigue is real — here’s why video calls are so draining). “People feel like they have to make more emotional effort to appear interested, and in the absence of many non-verbal cues, the intense focus on words and sustained eye contact is exhausting.” I’ve certainly felt this along with “Meeting Recovery Syndrome” at the end of a busy day. How about you?
- Consciously consider meeting attendees. This applies to both your team/company and your customer’s. Based on the desired meeting outcome, who are core vs secondary meeting attendees? (Tip: The more is not merrier unless it’s a “rave, soccer match, or concert, then more is scarier.”) Make exclusion purposeful, not personal. It’s also increasingly a team effort – have someone monitoring “chat” and polls, taking notes, etc. so you can focus on your audience.
- Consider our 4 R’s of Customer Engagement: Be Relevant, Real, Relatable, and Reliable. My colleague Rachel Cavallo says it well in her recent blog, 4 R’s of Building Trust and Customer Relationships in a Virtual Environment.
- Based on your objective, attendees and time, think about the amount of content required. And then halve it. Focusing on “MVP: Minimum Viable PowerPoint” (also from HBR) is something for us all to consider across all meetings, presentations, proposals, etc. Especially with all of us in back-to-back-to-back virtual meetings, less is certainly more.
- Virtual Setup. Channel your inner movie set director. Consider your camera angle (and quality), posture, appearance and especially the lighting, which may not sound important but if your main light source, say a lamp, is behind you versus in front of you, you’ll look like you’re about to enter the witness protection program. Not what you want when meeting with your customers or colleagues.
- Check out this Freakanomics podcast, How to Make Meetings Less Terrible. The “MMA Cage Match of opposing ideas” from Priya Parker is great.
Even though my primary office has been my home for over a decade, adapting to a full virtual (and video based) experience has been a huge adjustment. I will continue to learn and improve and welcome feedback from you on these ideas and others.
Until we can meet up in person, a virtual “cheers” to you.
P.S. If you haven’t already, check out MasterClass. The negotiations class by Chris Voss, a former top hostage negotiator, is worth the annual $180 fee alone.