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As companies start to shift to a remote work set-up due to the pandemic, it’s clear that virtual meetings are going to become the new norm. Although online meetings seem as simple as clicking a button, keeping workers engaged throughout is another challenge altogether.

According to a survey conducted by Buffer, remote workers deal with a host of problems—from feelings of isolation and miscommunication, to staying motivated.

That being said, it’s imperative to figure out how to keep them engaged, even through a screen. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips to conduct productive virtual meetings.

1. Ensure You Have the Proper Tools

It goes without saying that the right tools can make or break your virtual meetings. After all, it’s easy to get discouraged when software is too limited or keeps crashing every other minute.

Fortunately, HP’s list of telecommuting apps that are available for remote workers includes the popular Zoom app, which is very reliable and free. On the other hand, there’s also the powerhouse Microsoft Teams, which can allow up to 10,000 attendees per meeting. Ensuring that everyone has the proper tools installed is the first step to create engaging meetings, as these are essential for building a strong and smooth foundation to interact on.

2. Create a Meeting Agenda

Virtual meetings are often associated with having an awkward environment, as some people are too shy to share their thoughts onscreen. A simple yet effective way to keep everyone engaged is by crafting a meeting agenda beforehand. Whether you write down talking points or set up a schedule, adding structure will enable remote workers to enter their virtual meetings with more confidence.

In fact, our contributor Quincy Smith previously shared that giving out notes during remote meetings helps team members stay focused. You can also get them involved and ask what they’d like to discuss beforehand.

3. Opt for Video Conferences

When it comes to virtual meetings, workers are normally given the option to choose between having an audio conference or a video conference. Although the former is a convenient choice because no one needs to worry about getting ready, limiting your meeting to audio is less personal. This, in turn, can make team members feel even more disconnected.

True enough, Forbes notes that 79% of employees found video conferences to be significantly more effective than sticking to audio. Seeing everyone’s faces on screen is indeed a wonderful way to have sincere social interactions despite being in different (home) offices.

4. Let Everyone Have Some Screen Time

It’s important to point out that engaging in virtual meetings is easier for some than others. For instance, extroverted employees tend to respond to questions more naturally, while introverted types might need more time to ease into such a vast virtual space.

On that note, you can set a time in your meeting agenda where each team member can speak and collaborate, so they get a chance to provide their own input or raise questions.

5. Allot Time for Checking In

In a report from CNBC, it is revealed that living in this “new normal” has started to take a serious toll on the mental health of more and more workers. What’s more is that 60% of professionals state that it ends up having a negative impact on their productivity.

To this end, try to set some time to conduct check-ins and get everyone in the right headspace for the meeting. Alternatively, you can ask your team to break into smaller groups towards the end, so they can feel more comfortable sharing what they’re going through. All in all, checking in helps each member feel truly connected.

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