Zoom fatigue has quickly become a 2020 mantra. But, just like any communication medium Zoom has the capacity to deplete us OR energize us. I’ve been experimenting with different methods of engagement in Zoom meetings, noticing that my message actually blooms with Zoom! For example, Zoom allows me to take a mostly one-sided ‘webinar’ and turn it into a conversation that opens people up to explore ideas.
I’d like to share how I am getting the most blooms from Zooms. First, be clear about your higher-level intent. What outcome do you want? Usually the desired outcome falls into one or more of these categories:
- Deliver information
- Integrate content
While nothing replaces in-person meetings totally; there are advantages to virtual that I believe are around to stay. I continue to evolve with these meetings. No matter what your intention, here are some of my best suggestions to make your Zooms bloom!
If your only intent is to deliver information, likely a live Zoom meeting is not the best choice. I suggest recording a video (done easily on Zoom and then shared) or send a document that can be viewed at the participants’ convenience. If collaboration and integration are desired, engage people after they’ve had time to digest the information.
If your intent is to actively engage people to generate new ideas, create a sense of belonging, and collaboration these tips are for you.
- Add creativity and intrigue to your invites, then begin with participants reflecting on the topic. This creates energy and connection at the beginning of your meeting.
For example, in a recent virtual video conversation, I had participants reflect on the question, “What struck you about my topic ‘fighting for civility?’” This helps me learn what they are thinking about the topic. Just like going to a conference, often you get more from the conversations with others than the content presented. If there are more than 5 people I use the breakout room feature.
Breakout room tips – keep it to about three people so they have time to talk. And, give them ample time. Ask them to identify a spokesperson to share thoughts when they rejoin the larger group. If you do more than one breakout session, switch the participants around.
Even if this is a “Staff Meeting” consider giving it a unique title that will spark ideas. Such as “Surprising Numbers Dropped Up,” then at the beginning of the meeting a reflective question could be “What struck you by the words ‘surprising numbers dropped up?’” You may be surprised what thoughts and ideas are triggered by a creatively well-formed question. The book, Bite the Dog, by Gary Schneeberger brought to my attention the value of bringing together unexpected contrasting words.
- Turn back time and go low tech
Low tech is refreshing and surprising for people. Try making foam board signs with key content (thank you Chad Littlefield). This way you still have visuals to guide the engagement. I’ve, also, been putting key content on a background screen rather than a PP slide, so I don’t disappear when I want to summarize.
Short action videos are awesome to screen share!
Death by PowerPoint comes quicker when it’s virtual. If you must use, use sparingly, if your intent is collaboration.
- Turn chat into a gold mine!
If you want to gather thoughts or input from everyone, ask a question and have people respond in chat. One caveat – have them wait, then share all at once. 1,2,3 – share! Then, give a quiet minute or so a let people read everyone’s chat response. This could then be a good time for another breakout to ask the question, “What struck you in the chat?”
- Remember people still have legs! Get people up and moving. Maybe they go get an object that illustrates some point and bring it back or do a stretching break! (Although, you may want to warn people to be dressed for standing up!)
- Show up as your best self! In late March I produced “3 tips” video on how to make the best of your video presence. Take a look! Requiring people to show up on video is good. If you were having a meeting in your office space would you allow someone to attend with a blanket over their head or hide behind a curtain – No!
I use the analogy of L.A.B. Lighting, Angle and Background. For specifics watch the video below.
- Engage a third party to facilitate – I do this and love working with leaders to get your people connecting, collaborating, and energized around what is important to you! The possiblites are endless! Contact me here.
If your goal is development, have your participants apply the content and demonstrate it in some way. This depends on your content and can look many different ways. I’d be happy to consult with you. The upcoming Spiral Impact Conflict Mastery Certification I will be using pre-recorded content for participants to view or read at their convenience and virtual video engagement to integrate and apply the concepts.