Engaging with Life Online
“Tweet others the way you want to be tweeted.”
The new normal
The “old” normal relied on being able to communicate with people physically by meeting up, and to communicate remotely through phone calls, text messages and the various social media channels with which we have started to become familiar. The “new” normal has to embrace the remote/online world for pretty much all communications since we can’t meet physically. This adds video calls, webinars and video conferences to our arsenal of communications methods. People who would never have entered the online world, are now becoming enthusiastic advocates of its use. See “The Online world and Gen-C” here: https://rogerfairhead.com/genc/
This post looks at video conferencing, and in particular, at some additional tools we can use to encourage participation and engagement in online meetings.
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”~ LP Hartley
The thing is, however much you might want to, you can’t change other people’s behaviour simply by trying to change their behaviour. That’s because our behaviour is based on our attitudes and emotions. So, how do we go about influencing an audience so that they do change their behaviour, and turn Shelf-Development into Self-Development? Well, one important way is to keep their attention and interact with them so that you do connect with their emotions.
When joining or leading an online meeting there are several things that we can do in preparation to make sure we are well prepared to participate.
- Familiarise yourself with how to mute/un-mute your mic, start/stop your camera, and how to use chat
- Consider security – know how to remove people from the room, or lock the room (but don’t go overboard, we’re not discussing national security)
- Think carefully about your office layout and background (please avoid using green screen unless you have a top-quality camera)
- Do everything you can to minimise any audible disruptions around you such as washing machines, hoovering, or TV – they will appear a lot louder to others than to you
- Close all other apps on your device where possible, and use any “do not disturb” features
- Position yourself with lighting from behind the camera to illuminate your face, and don’t have a light behind you, which would cause a silhouette
When participating in an online meeting there are some rules of etiquette that will make the event more enjoyable for all.
- Mute your mic when not talking, and when speaking look at the camera, not at the screen
- Be cautious when entering a conversation, the dynamics are different than in physical meetings (apps use local audio suppression when others are speaking to avoid feedback, so you may not be heard)
- Speak slowly, and make sure to allow space for others to enter a conversation
- When typing into chat, double-check what you’ve typed before pressing “enter”
- Please don’t eat or drink with the video/mic on, and type quietly!
- Even when you’re on mute on a video call, be present in the meeting.
What do you want to do in your online meeting?
Consider what you want to achieve in meeting with these people, and what type of meeting it is going to be. Online & physical meetings are simply different communication methods to allow you to achieve your objectives. Be clear on what you want to get out of the meeting, and then consider which tools you can use to help you get the best out of a meeting and encourage participation and engagement where necessary.
There are many different types of meetings and different reasons for meeting. We will explore some of these ideas here and then we’ll look at the tools we can use to help in the next section.
Supervision and staff appraisal meetings. When having regular meetings with one or more people it can be helpful to have notes from previous meetings available. Consider using online documents such as Google Docs to record the content of the discussion along with all decisions made and actions to take.
Presentations, status updates and information-sharing meetings. A physical presentation will often make use of applications such as PowerPoint or Keynote and a whiteboard. In addition to these typical applications, there are some online versions emerging that offer more audience engagement and feedback.
Task planning, task monitoring, and decision-making meetings. There are many online tools available for planning and tracking work, and an increasingly popular approach has emerged from the so-called “agile” project management method. These involve having tasks being in one of five states, usually represented in columns (or swim lanes) with the following headings: “backlog”, “to do”, “doing”, “done” and “shelved” where tasks can be moved rather like Post-it Notes from one column to the next.
Ideation, innovation, problem-solving, team building and staff meetings. Where there is a need to be creative and share ideas together it can be important for several people to be able to contribute to an emerging so-called “rich picture” simultaneously. There are some great online whiteboard apps available that can facilitate this so that multiple people can add ideas into the rich picture.
Tools & techniques
Most of these online tools are pretty intuitive to use and have extensive help files available. I have included a beginners guide on the key things you’ll need to know to get started for a few that I use regularly in another blog post.
Video conferencing apps. There are plenty of options available including product-specific solutions such as Apple’s FaceTime; there are downloadable applications and solutions based on using Web pages, such as Zoom (https://zoom.us/), WebEx (https://www.webex.com/), GoToMeeting (https://www.gotomeeting.com/), Skype Meet Now, etc. and Web pages include Whereby (https://whereby.com/), and Google Hangouts; many other tools are available.
Using PowerPoint or Keynote. If you plan to use PowerPoint slides in a screen share, then you’ll find it helpful to present the Slideshow in a Window rather than full screen. To do that simply select “Slideshow / Set Up Slide Show / Browsed by an individual (window)”. To achieve the same result in Keynote, go to the File menu and “Export as / html” and then run the html file locally in a browser window.
Minutes, decision and actions. A great way of documenting meetings so all participants can see the decisions and actions is to use an online document editor such as Google Docs (https://docs.google.com/), Dynalist (https://dynalist.io/) or Notion (https://www.notion.so/).
For more, check out https://www.techworm.net/2019/02/best-alternatives-google-docs.html
Online presentation tools. There are several options that are like Powerpoint, with added features to allow interaction with the audience. These include the usual templates of headings, long text, bulleted lists, images, etc, and also include features such as add polls, word clouds, Q&As, slides and more to your presentations and create an interactive experience for your audience. Your audience uses their smartphones to vote on questions and engage with the presentation. Options include: Mentimeter (https://www.mentimeter.com/) and AhaSlides (https://ahaslides.com/).
For more, check out https://zapier.com/blog/best-powerpoint-alternatives/
Online Whiteboards. A technique used quote frequently in physical training and many presentations includes a Whiteboard or Flip Chart. Again, there are several online options that provide the opportunity to contribute simultaneously online, and these go from the fairly basic Whiteboardfox (https://whiteboardfox.com/), ConceptBoard (https://conceptboard.com/), and Limnu (https://limnu.com/).
For more check out https://zapier.com/blog/best-online-whiteboard/
Task planning and monitoring. I have just included a couple of products here based on the agile project management approach, although there are many others to choose from. Trello (https://trello.com/) is probably the most popular of the options for free scrum boards, and StormBoard (https://stormboard.com/) offers a few more visually attractive features with some interesting templates.
For more, check out https://stackify.com/top-scrum-boards/
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.