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Virtual Meeting Tip #1: Keeping People Focused and Engaged

Many people don't have good in-person meeting skills, and teleconferences just make it worse. In the first in a series of tips, here are recommendations that can help with a common problem in virtual meetings:

KEEPING PEOPLE FOCUSED AND ENGAGED

Create an agenda that encourages participant input and engagement. There is a tendency for people in virtual meetings to become distracted by checking email, chatting, or doing things on their desktop. Assume that participants will become distracted after 10-15 minutes, and build in activity. You need to do this more frequently than in a face-to-face session. For example, include questions, on-line idea generation, brainstorming, and polling.

Help people focus during transitions from one meeting part to another. Create a scoreboard or dashboard so everyone can see where you are in the agenda, who is up, and what is coming next. Attendees should also be able to see who is at the meeting.

Change the way you ask for feedback. Watch out for questions like, "Does everyone agree?" Remote attendees can't answer easily without stepping over each others' responses. Web conferencing software that includes polling features can help you better solicit audience feedback.

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