These days, most team interactions happen remotely using online meeting applications but our clients tell us that many of those virtual meetings are ineffective. Very ineffective! As business transformation coach and best-selling author Keith Ferrazzi said recently: ‘People have become zoombies – zombies in the Zoom environment’. Certainly NOT what a manager wants, or a company needs!

Now even more than ever, companies need teams to have effective interactions in order to develop new insights and identify opportunities, to take the right decisions, create alignment and ensure effective implementation!

In this insight we will address the urgent issue of how to ensure your team has effective virtual meetings that truly push your company forward!

Before proposing any solutions, let’s analyze the problem.

Most meetings involve too many ‘presentations’ or one-way instruction or information giving, and not enough ‘discussion’. The result, especially in virtual meetings, is that people get distracted, start to multi-task, and disengage – the exact opposite of what is needed i.e. a meeting in which participants are engaged, focused and providing quality contributions (ideas, analysis, alternative suggestions etc). 

So what do we suggest to ensure engaging and effective virtual meetings?

  • Keep presentations short. Really. Tell presenters to send their slides well in advance and to ask participants to read them ahead of the meeting making clear that there won’t be a full presentation during the meeting itself. 
  • Ask: what’s new? Meeting participants’ attention switches off when they go over old ground: the same information and discussions. So challenge them to bring forward new ideas and developments in the way that Bismarck allegedly did during briefings, saying: “Don’t tell me the situation. I know the situation. Tell me what has changed”.

  • Create a dialogue: Presenters should not only prepare answers. They should also prepare questions. And they should encourage participants to stress test what was presented, demonstrating that they genuinely value feedback. Once that happens, participants are much more engaged and the discussion goes up several notches in terms of content and outcomes. Far more interesting. Far more added value.

Our suggestion: apply these guidelines during your next staff meeting and notice how your team is energized (rather than zombie-like), and how your virtual meetings are transformative (rather than informative).

Photo by Allie on Unsplash

If you would like to deepen your understanding of how to optimise meetings and practice the skills needed to get the most out of your virtual team meetings, we have years of experience coaching business leaders and can provide quality online training. To find out more, please click here: