Kjell Lutz is one of our most wanted online meeting moderators and a valued chief-trainer of our Workshop Online & Hybrid Moderation.
He wrote a short overview of simple steps that make every online meeting a lot better. The low hanging fruit, so to speak. To get everyone back into the swing of things.
These tips will help you get there.
See your participants
A major shortcoming of online meetings is the feeling of connection. At home, behind your camera, alone ... That does not give you the feeling of being seen. Using names regularly is a very simple way to connect with participants.
For example, during the walk-in: what a big difference it makes, when you come in and you immediately hear your name and when someone asks you how you are doing.
But also during other interactive moments, such as when using the chat: don't only mention the answers given, but especially who gave the answers.
Make eye contact
It is very important to keep an eye on all participants during a session. As a facilitator, you therefore constantly look at all the 'postage stamps' to see how everyone is doing. Reacting to what you see, certainly makes your meeting better.
The downside of this is that participants do not feel like you are really making eye contact. So make sure that you look straight into the camera every time you start an interaction, make an announcement or make a statement. You don't have to do this all the time, because you don't do it during a normal conversation either (try it: the other person will think you're completely crazy within a minute), but do it regularly.
Be yourself, times one and a half
When you stand in front of a crowded room, the people who are there give you energy. You will automatically enlarge your gestures, raise your voice and start giving more energy. Conversely, the participants feast on your energy and get carried away by it.
Online, this exchange of energy is almost completely absent. And then there is only one thing you can do: pour in the energy yourself! Stay true to yourself, but magnify yourself times one and a half. Pretend the meeting is already fun, before it is. Show energy that actually still has to be generated. Then participants will automatically join you.
Play with your body language
I am often told that it is so difficult to express yourself on camera, because you cannot play non-verbally. But that really is complete nonsense.
If you would normally walk up to someone, for example, you can now move your head or even one eye all the way towards the camera. This has just as much impact. Or move your camera a bit further away, so that the picture shows your hands. These can then be used to good effect.
Work with small groups
Perhaps the most common comment about online sessions is that people miss the networking and the coffee talk. You can create that feeling online as well. You just don't do it with twenty people on the screen at the same time, but in small groups.
Research shows that groups of three are ideal for networking and in practice we round this off to groups of three to four participants. Do not put these participants in a room randomly, but let them work on something tangible and give them enough time for that, so they get to know each other in an accessible way.
More variety, more breaks.
People behave differently online than they do at live meetings. You can be annoyed about that, or live with it.
Try to have a change of format every 10 minutes. That can be as simple as a bit of interaction, a video or assignment instead of someone talking the whole time.
At home, participants are also distracted by the cat, the children and the e-mail. So give them enough time to do something with that. Take more and longer breaks during your online sessions.
Whether you are holding a session for cleaners or for the ministry, everyone likes to have fun. And online is no different.
So have participants search their homes for an object that shows how they feel about something. Have them move to the left (or right) of the screen if they agree with something. Play up a hilarious situation (once the back of a cat in front of the camera resulted in the spontaneous quiz 'guess the butt', where everyone held the back of their pet in front of the lens). Or make a fool of yourself. Your online session will only be fun, when you make it fun. So dance, play, draw, laugh!