Greenwich, CT / While the pandemic has taught us that it is possible to achieve work and productivity away from the office, Anamika Madan notes one thing that likely won’t stay as a norm is online meetings or web conferences. Today the average person spends a lot of time staring at a computer screen for online meetings. After spending countless hours talking through a screen, they never want to see another digital meeting again. Unfortunately, that’s not practical or achievable for most businesses during the beginning of 2021. Anamika Madan has been an advocate in highlighting the importance of making online meetings more tolerable again.

Be Clear on What the Meeting Should Accomplish

The first step in a productive meeting is to be clear about the goal and what needs to be accomplished. Anamika Madan notes that the age-old problem with meetings was that too many of them ended up being meetings just to meet and were unproductive. Ensure your meeting has a clear target, and everyone knows what is expected as a result. Your agenda can spell this out clearly for all your attendees ahead of time.

Give Everyone Some time to Connect

Give your meeting about five minutes for everyone to log in, advises Anamika Madan. Many are bouncing from one meeting tool to another, often with glitches. Use the five minutes instead to check in with folks, see how they’re doing, and get a feel for the mood. Folks will appreciate the attention and will likely engage more knowing that someone cares.

Share the Meetings Tasks

Don’t control the whole presentation. Instead, Anamika Madan advises letting people speak up to assist and specifying their tasks for the meeting. The more people are invested, the more they will engage, even if virtual. 

Get Visual

Who wants to look at another boring document in Arial or Courier font? Make your displayed documents or presentations visual and graphic, such as photos, images, smart graphics, and more. Present your written material on the screen in an exciting and intuitive style. People will pay attention from the beginning because there is something to look at instead of generic digital name tags.

Digital Doesn’t Mean Sit Still

Include quick one or two-minute breaks during your meetings to let people get up and move. Encourage them to do it at the halfway mark. This will help everyone stay focused and help them stay alert for the rest of the conference.

Poll People

Meeting audiences love to feel engaged but anonymous. Anamika Madan advises giving them an outlet to do so. Many tools can use a smartphone to cast votes and then display real-time results on your web meeting display via the Internet. Use them. People will engage if they feel they can vote or make notes without penalty because their name is attached. 

Use Games and Simple Rewards to Hold Attention

According to Anamika Madan and her experience, Gamification of meeting content, especially long meetings, is a great way to keep people focused and attentive. Give rewards for people identifying key aspects, intentional mistakes, or hidden Mickeys (Disney places obscure Mickey Mouse symbols all over their parks to see if people can find them when visiting). A simple prize like a coffee house gift card or similar can be low cost and a low-cost incentive to keep people involved and watching the screen. Not to mention, your meetings will likely be the popular ones as a result.

We’re not going to get away from online meetings just yet, so let’s make them livable and usable for a change instead of another hour lost that folks feel they will never get back.