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How to Improve Online Meeting Experience

How to Improve Online Meeting Experience

According to EventMB Research, 40% of planners have been unable to organize a successful virtual event this year, citing engagement as the biggest roadblock. However, is this necessarily a new phenomenon in the industry? It could be argued that before March 2020, many in-person attendees were doing exactly what virtual attendees are doing now: passively watching a PowerPoint presentation on a screen. Whether that screen is 10-feet wide in a convention center room or a standard-sized computer screen in an attendee’s living room, the result was ultimately the same: attendees passively viewing presentations with very little interactivity or engagement.

Here are three connection techniques to improve virtual meeting experiences. These come from Lee Gimpel, the founder of Better Meetings. Lee has been helping organizations improve their meetings and conferences (both in-person and virtual) for the past two years. In EVA’s live webinar on Engagement is More than a Coffee Break or an Open Bar, he talked about engagement (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) and highlighted his top three connection techniques to enhance online meetings:

#1: Use name tags and Zoom names

Use name tags and Zoom names

While it may seem like a no-brainer to use name tags when it comes to in-person meetings, name tags can be used more effectively when additional information is added to them, such as an attendee’s pronouns, the field they work in, or what brings them to this event in the first place. It gives attendees another way to interact with each other and is a great way to nudge attendees into connecting.

#2: Give attendees a reason to talk together

Give attendees a reason to talk together

Whether it be an introductory icebreaker or a post-session discussion, attendees are more likely to be engaged if the session they’re attending is interactive; in the realm of virtual events, this means giving the attendees an opportunity to talk to each other. This also offers attendees another chance to network and make valuable connections in a more casual setting than a designated networking room or roundtable.

#3: Break up your sessions

Break up your sessions
Source: University of Houston Downtown

Most sessions are broken up into three parts: an introduction where the moderator welcomes and introduces the main speaker; a presentation usually ranging from 45 to 90 minutes; and finally, a Q&A session at the end (provided there’s enough time). With this presentation style, of course it’s difficult for even the most charismatic of speakers to fill a 45-90 minute presentation and keep the audience engaged the entire time. Break the session up by cutting down the presentation time to 15-20 minutes and using the remaining time for attendee discussion.