Most of us agree that we live in an attention deficit world and it’s not surprising we feel that way. Imagine yourself walking into a room about to share a plan that will put potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in the pockets of a sales team. This hot new business area is key to both the attendee’s commission check and your company’s success. You look out at the audience and as people come into the room, they sit down, open their laptops and put mobile phones next to them.
As you start talking about this amazing new opportunity, you get about three minutes of undivided attention and then, boom, eyeballs back to email and messaging. If this was a virtual meeting, you might as well be talking to yourself.
You have to stop letting people hide out in your meetings and classrooms. What can you do? Start by using these best practices for virtual presentations from the virtual meeting room.
Get to know your attendees and reveal potential hiding places
It’s a lot harder to engage someone you know nothing about. Whether you‘re in person or in a virtual room, you have to know who’s with you. As people come in the room, greet them, and ask them questions that can give you insights on why they are there and what they expect. What’s top of mind for them that day? Are there things pending in their world that will impact their attention in your meeting? Put names to faces, voices, or other identifiers you may have in a virtual room. Write down key points to use later in the meeting.
Set expectations and don’t back down
You’ve got to make sure everyone knows there is no hiding (i.e. multi-tasking) in your meetings. Establish that you are going to ask for input and then DO IT! You can’t waver on this. Once you’ve let someone off the hook, everyone will think it’s fine to disengage and hide in the corners. The attendees are there for a reason. Help them achieve their goal and consequently, yours!
Take ownership and increase your interaction
In the virtual world, most of us think it’s critical to engage your audience every three minutes. Does this apply in all venues? In my opinion, yes! I’ll bet you know where this discussion is going. Slides and talking just won’t cut it. Not if you want action from your audience. Talk to the people, not the slides, in your in-person meetings. Make sure you ask for input and create opportunities for quick check-ins. Use the insights you learned in casual conversation to link them back into the discussion. If you are sharing crucial information, demand their attention!
Whether you are in a virtual room or in person, the key to achieving your goals is to make sure everyone is engaged. At your next meeting...count to ten, and make sure they are all in the room!