Month: June 2020

5 Tips for More Engaging Meetings

5 Tips for More Engaging Conference Calls and Remote Meetings

A lot of my clients have been asking for tips for making their remote meetings more engaging. Here are 5 critical things to consider to ensure you make the best of your virtual meeting time.

1. Have a Clear Purpose and an Agenda

The main reason people tune out during calls is because they shouldn’t be there in the first place. Make sure you’ve invited the right stakeholders and are clear about why you’re holding the call. Also be sure everyone knows what you want to achieve during your time together.

2. Encourage Participation

A call that is interactive will naturally be more engaging than a lecture. Ask questions, seek input, and if you must talk for several minutes, check in with your group along the way to make sure they are following (or if they need any clarification). One way to do this is to deliver your messages by topic, one by one, and pause to encourage input or questions before moving to the next.

3. Skip the Video (Sometimes)

Video calls on Zoom or Teams can be exhausting because our eyes and brains have more to track than when on an audio-only call. This is especially true with numerous people on the call. Video calls certainly have their place and should be used when seeing each other makes sense. However, consider when a nice, audio-only phone call is the better option. 

4. Use Visuals

Even when you’re on an audio-only call, a good visual or two can help support your messages and engage participants. Consider opportunities to share a graphic or bring up a few slides over a screen share. 

5. Smile Before You Begin 

Even when the call is on the phone without any video, your audience can still sense your enthusiasm, or lack thereof. Run the call with positivity and enthusiasm. Reminding yourself to smile and exude positivity will help make others feel more engaged during the call. After all, if you don’t sound like you want to be there, why should they?

Leading Means Inspiring and Developing People

Be Sure You Say It

How many times have you thought about thanking someone for helping you on a project, or complimenting one of your team members on how well they handled something? Each time, did you do it? 

If you’re like most busy professionals, you didn’t. It slipped your mind. Or maybe when you had the opportunity to do so it felt like the right moment had passed. 

And when you have high-performing team members who are at the top of their games, it’s even easier to assume they don’t need extrinsic feedback. But they do. 

Everyone does. 

Almost every pivotal moment in my career has been influenced by someone else who believed in me, and who helped me see my strengths more clearly. Of course, I do a lot of work within my own head to work things out as I move along my own personal journey while blazing my unique path forward. But the kindness I’ve received from others through encouraging words, as well as constructive criticism, has shaped me in many ways. I am grateful to those who took the time to pause and tell me. 

Who can you build up today by telling them something they need to hear? Be sure to take a moment and say it.

Presentation Tip: It's not easy to make things simple

Simple ≠ Easy

If you think it’s easy to make something simple, it’s not. For example, the user interface of an app or mobile device needs to be simple and easy to understand without reading a manual, right? The same is true for a presentation where you need to help an audience understand concepts or data that are unfamiliar or complex. It takes great effort to make these things more digestible and easier to understand. 

How do you do that? Through editing, refining, and rehearsing.

Here are some tips:

  • Record your presentation and watch it back. As you experience it like your audience will, try to put yourself in their shoes. Are you giving them too much background? Are you making assumptions and leaving something critical out? I use Zoom or QuickTime to record myself or my slides when I rehearse.
  • Figure out where you can edit your presentation (script and slides) to make complex points more simple. Sometimes you may need to make a slide less busy and narrate the supporting points instead. Other times you may need to inject an example or analogy into your script. And maybe you need to rewrite certain parts of the script to help explain complex concepts with words and visuals that are more appropriate to the intended audience.
  • Then rehearse again. And if you can, try to give the presentation a test drive in front of a few people who can provide feedback from the viewpoint of your intended audience. 

As Steve Jobs once said, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Take the time to ensure your presentations are clean and simple. It will make them easier to present, and more effective and engaging for your audiences.

Grow Good Leaders

Lead, Follow, and Get Out of the Way

You’ve probably heard the famous quote, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” It’s used a lot in business and has been attributed to several influential individuals including Lee Iacocca, Ted Turner, and even Thomas Paine. 

The quote is an either-or proposition. You either lead, you follow, or you avoid interfering with those who have stepped in line and are playing their respective roles.

But leading well also means knowing how and when to follow — and knowing when to get out of the way. 

How can you help someone you’ve trained and developed take the lead?

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash
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