Online Meetings: Grab Attendees’ Attention – And Keep It

Create an interactive, productive, and entertaining meeting to increase engagement and participation.

Online Meeting for Attendees

We all know it's easier to hold an audience captive when they're sitting in front of you. So, how do you keep that same level of engagement during online meetings? You need to make them want to come, be heard, and get involved.

As you think about how to make online meetings more interesting, consider how you'll prepare, organize, and present your team meeting ideas. Are they interesting? Motivating? Use these steps in planning a meeting to create an interactive, productive, and entertaining session that will lead to better engagement and encourage greater participation in future online meetings.   


Get Them to Show Up

There are various approaches on how to get people to come to meetings. You could make attendance mandatory, but wouldn't you rather have eager participants rather than reluctant ones? Knowing how to boost meeting attendance without having to resort to strong-arm tactics will make a big difference in your team's overall engagement and productivity.

  • Be accommodating
    Hold meetings during the scheduled workday, if possible, when everyone can attend. If you have a long-distance team working across multiple time zones, select the earliest possible time of day for team members in the latest time zone. Meeting attendees should perceive your online session as a positive tool that will help them do their job better rather than an unwelcome, time-wasting interruption that derails their workday.

    While it's tempting to schedule meetings for Mondays or Fridays, these are the least productive days: people are either putting out Monday morning fires or dreaming of the weekend. If you want them staying focused in meetings, schedule a Wednesday morning meeting. This allows you to discuss the week's progress thus far, and plan ahead for next week.
  • Encourage everyone to be heard
    When you create a collaborative team meeting agenda, you'll experience better online meetings. Send out a memo before the meeting, asking attendees to place items on the agenda or share an online document that can be expanded upon in the days or hours leading up to your meeting. 

    Review these pre-meeting matters and assign time in the online team meeting agenda to discuss them. Not only will this keep your online meeting flowing smoothly, but it will also prevent it from going off-topic. Incorporate new items into the existing agenda where they make the most sense, and highlight items that should be addressed offline rather than in the public meeting dialogue. By asking for and accepting suggestions, you give team members another reason to show up and contribute.


Get Them Involved

There are many ways to encourage participation in meetings. Start by having meeting attendees introduce themselves. As each participant speaks, ask if they have a cool or funny nickname that they like, and then refer to them by that name throughout the meeting. 

Assign everyone a task. Put someone in charge of keeping track of ideas presented during the meeting. Ask someone else to keep notes on agenda items to be followed up on later. Make another participant responsible for recapping each team member's assignments and distributing them after the meeting. 

Extroverts are always willing to participate in meetings, but how do you get the introverts to join in? Interactive meeting ideas that involve behind-the-scenes activities are great ways to engage those less likely to contribute vocally. These tasks include formatting the agenda, sending out reminders, recording attendance, and compiling highlights from the meeting to send to non-attendees.


Get Them to Lighten Up

One Want to know how to make meetings fun? Start with a few virtual icebreakers. Invite attendees to share the funniest or most embarrassing thing that happened to them this week, or ask members to share what animal they would choose to be and why. Have each member offer a fun name for your current project and let everyone vote on the best one. These exercises only take a few minutes, but they kick the meeting off on a high note. 

Make time for casual conversation, but remember to maintain control. Once everyone's had a chance to get comfortable, it's time to get down to business. Follow the set agenda, taking short breaks to ask if participants have anything they'd like to add. 


Get Them to Listen Up

What do you do when members are not paying attention in meetings? It can be hard to keep people on track during a lengthy meeting, so get them interested right from the start and keep them engaged throughout. Follow these helpful tips:

  • How to get people interested at the beginning of the call
    Begin your meeting with a hook that instantly attracts everyone's attention. Let them know at some point in the session you'll be sharing some news – and have that news ready in your back pocket when you feel their attention dropping. 

  • How to keep members engaged from start to finish
    Schedule breaks during the call and have members unmute themselves so they can ask questions. Throw out questions of your own as well. For those who tend to tune out during meetings, have them prepare to weigh in on a topic in their area of expertise – this way, they'll be eager for their turn to speak.

  • How to manage work-from-home employees during an online meeting
    These team members can sometimes feel disconnected from the team, so find ways to draw them in. Remote workers know how to effectively manage their time, so before the meeting, ask them to share productivity or work/life balance tips with the team.


Get Them to the Finish Line

There are many fun ways to close a meeting. As the session is wrapping up, ask participants what plans they have for their downtime. This is a good way for team members to get to know one another, and a reminder to make time for themselves. 

Remember, your meeting is only productive when it's engaging. When you encourage participation in the planning and execution of your meetings, you're likely to keep online meeting attendees engaged. Incorporate some of these interactive meeting ideas into your next session and watch the enthusiasm and productivity speak for themselves. 


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