Keeping employees on the ball during meetings can be a big challenge, especially for IT professionals who are used to moving from one task to the next very quickly. Whether you’re a trouble shooting technician or a network administrator, dealing with IT in any role is life in the business fast lane. Therefore, it can be particularly difficult to keep staff engaged during meetings that are out of their normal rhythm of work. However, there are definitely some common pitfalls to avoid, as well as tools that can improve engagement of which you should be aware. Here are a few tips about how to keep your team awake and on point during online meetings.
- The Obvious Is Actually Important
As obvious as it might seem, the fact of the matter is that many IT professionals don’t come prepared to meetings. This is especially egregious if you’re the supervisor or meeting facilitator, and you show up without having the right type of materials or the technological expertise to fix even a glitchy connection. All Business points out that having all the necessary supplies on hand for the meeting, whether online or in-person, is absolutely essential to avoiding wasted time. The old saying “time is money” is absolutely true, but it also represents morale and engagement. The more faux pas you make by being unprepared, the less engaged your meeting attendees become. This is especially true once technical glitches start happening and you can’t fix them, or you haven’t distributed the meeting materials beforehand, so you’re fumbling with your computer, trying to find the documents you need.
The fact is that all of these issues can be avoided, and even improved when you use video conferencing. When you’re in IT, one of the most important features for any meeting is being able to share a screen with many different attendees, since this is where the bulk of your work occurs. By coming prepared to a meeting with the material you need, you can even improve on it by using content and screen sharing options.
2. Use the Right Service Provide
One of the biggest pet peeves for many IT workers is when the technology you’re using doesn’t work, since it’s basically the nature of your field to ensure that technology works properly. Therefore, using a service like BlueJeans for enterprise video conferencing solutions for IT will definitely earn you points and respect from your colleagues, since it’s very unlikely to glitch or drop the call unlike a free service. You need to do your research, of course, on what types of video meetings suit your needs, and especially what the features of content sharing and interoperability are. If you’re dealing with a large corporation as a client, for example, and you’re an independent contractor, they may already have a dedicated video conferencing system in place in their facility. Using a provider that can function from the cloud and operate with other types of conference systems is absolutely essential for online meetings, whether it be when your IT team connects with each other, or interacts with a client during a meeting.
3. Keep Your Staff Active
According to Fast Company, studies show that having in-person meeting standing up actually facilitates much higher levels of engagement, rather than sitting around a table. This isn’t so much about the physicality of standing, but more about the immediacy of brainstorming and problem solving. Online meetings can actually function much in the same way, since you have to be on your toes and paying attention at all times. There’s no opportunity to stare into space or become distracted by someone walking past the conference room, because all eyes are on you at any given time. Given that during a video conference, the focus is centrally on someone’s face, it becomes harder not to engage and respond to the hike of intensity when you’re contributing to the conversation.
4. Don’t Let the Meeting Drag
Meetings need to have time limits, since a meeting that drags is one of the top reasons why people start mentally checking out. There are differing opinions on what the ideal length of a meeting should be, but common wisdom would dictate that it should be as long as it needs to be to get the discussion done. However, what determines if this actually happens successfully is the skill of the moderator. Know how your online meeting service works as well as distributing an agenda beforehand, since this is what helps to avoid superfluous chit-chat and get things done.
Any meeting can potentially be dull, whether it’s online or not. However, online meetings have the added bonus of offering may features and tools to really get your employees hooked into what’s being discussed and the issues on the table. Whether it’s screen sharing, content sharing, or simply allowing people from around the globe to tune in all at the same time, the most essential part of keeping staff engaged is using what’s already right at your fingertips and maximizing the tools available to you.