How to Make Your Virtual Meetings More Engaging

Virtual meeting planners are constantly competing with at-home and on-screen distractions.

First, there are environmental interruptions ranging from pets and people to items on the desk and buzzing mobile devices. Next, there are computer distractions, like an overflowing inbox or half-finished tasks sitting in a dozen open tabs.

Despite the difficulty in holding onto virtual attendees’ focus, a truly engaging meeting will make participants forget about what’s going on around them. Planners can use innovative ways to keep their audience’s attention and create a more immersive experience.

We’re sharing a list of technologies, games and strategies to keep your virtual meetings engaging.

Open with a creative icebreaker activity

Use the start of your virtual event to make a great first impression. This is our opportunity to show participants that your meeting is something they’ll want to dedicate their full attention to.

Rather than opening with a passive introduction to your topic — or none at all — use a more engaging icebreaker. Start with live polls or surveys that invite your audience to weigh in on the meeting topic. Consider asking:
  • Multiple-choice questions like, “How many times have you dealt with [topic]?’
  • Quick reaction questions like, “What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of [topic]?”
  • Open-ended questions like, “What’s the top question your clients ask about [topic]?”

Display results in real-time and spend a bit of time discussing what the results mean. From there, you can move on to the key talking points.

Encourage hands-on collaboration with virtual whiteboards and sticky notes

You aren’t limited to collecting audience perspectives during the icebreaker. As the meeting continues, use online tools to recreate the brainstorming and mind-mapping experiences that might come out of an in-person event.

Virtual collaboration tools like sticky note apps and virtual whiteboards promote collaboration and engagement. The results of your brainstorming will also be saved in one place so everyone can come back to the material later on.

Gathering perspectives at the start of the event and throughout a series of interactive sessions makes attendees personally engage with the topic and consider their viewpoints. Participants can keep reflecting on those perspectives as the meeting continues. For instance, they might challenge earlier misconceptions or assumptions about a subject as they learn more about it.

Plus, polls, surveys and virtual collaboration tools help you get to know your audience better. Knowing what your guests think about a particular subject provides insight into what points you should emphasize throughout the course of the event. Directly addressing questions or perceptions that came up during these activities is a great way to keep everyone engaged and personalize the agenda to the people in your virtual meeting space.

Use virtual games to energize your audience between sessions

Watching and listening for an extended period of time can wear out even the most interested virtual guests. Online games can provide a much-needed break, as well as an opportunity for socialization.

You can create and host your own game like a lighting round of virtual trivia between sessions. For something more immersive, partner with a virtual entertainment group that can host a remote escape room, racing game or an entire virtual Olympics.

These games can give attendees a chance to unwind, have a little fun and get to know each other better before it’s time to focus on the next meeting session.

Gamify the meeting itself

If breakout session games don’t fit your agenda, you can still use gamification to boost engagement. Encourage more active listening by setting up gamified elements across all meeting sessions.

For instance, have attendees complete a virtual scavenger hunt or bingo card throughout the course of the event. Or, have them press a buzzer as soon as something occurs. After a quick overview of the rules, your attendees will be watching and listening closely to play along.

Alternatively, you could lead the entire session as a Jeopardy-style presentation. This works especially well for training sessions or if you’re reviewing terms, policies or concepts.

Audience engagement benefits everyone involved

When long meetings and complex topics are broken down into smaller activities, your virtual audience members will have an easier time staying engaged. Collaborative activities, polls, and gamified approaches help ease cognitive load. This makes meeting sessions and the information presented much easier for your attendees to digest.

Additionally, these tactics facilitate regular audience interaction, so everyone gets more out of the experience. Soon enough, you’ll turn the most passive listeners into the most active participants. As a virtual host, you’ll be able to accomplish your meeting goals and make a lasting impact, while having some fun along the way.

For more ideas to make your next virtual meeting a success, partner with us at JTB USA Meetings & Events.