Article Hybrid Chasm

Humanize Your Next Virtual Meeting

Feeling burned out by virtual meetings? Here are some proven tips from leaders around the world to help you reconnect and bring the human connection back.
Read time: 5 min
Published: Sep 2022

We’ve all been there. You’ve been in too many virtual meetings this week and you’re feeling drained. The participants are talking over each other, the audio quality is poor, and you can’t seem to focus on what anyone is saying. Frustrating – and unproductive. Let’s fix that. Leaders across the globe are trying to reconnect with their hybrid and remote teams in creative ways all centered around one thing: the human connection.

Here are 6 easy ways to humanize your next virtual meeting and re-energize your team!

Reconnect: Hello! How Are You?

First, it is important to reconnect with your team and give people time to respond. Don’t just ask how people are doing; wait for an answer or ask someone specifically. Getting your team to open up and share something small and personal is part of rebuilding/building the human connection that many teams have lost.

It’s also a reminder to you and everyone in the meeting there are real people on the other side of the screen. Starting off with some small talk may not seem like an efficient use of time when you’ve got a lot to cover in the meeting but taking a couple of minutes to chat about things unrelated to work can actually help everyone feel more connected and engaged.

Ask people how their weekend was or what they’re looking forward to in the coming weeks; anything that helps build rapport will make the rest of the meeting more productive (and bearable).

Don’t Start on Time

Wait—What? Start the meeting on time—but set aside 5 minutes for people to grab-a-cup of coffee, go to the bathroom, grab something to eat, or simply a moment to refresh. Back-to-back virtual meetings are burning people out.

“Everyone is jumping from one meeting to the next meeting, and there’s no break in between. In the office you have time even if you just walk into the coffee machine, or you step out of the meeting– you have a few minutes that you as a person you recover and improve your attention again. It’s a way to recharge the battery to boost attention.”
– Dirk Echtermeyer, Aptiv at Jugo in July.

It’s happening to executives as well—not just employees. For example, when you send out a meeting invite open the meeting at 8am but let them know ahead of time the agenda begins at 8:05am.

“I give a break at the beginning. We sit there we talk for 5 minutes about current happenings. We have a sip of coffee, we talk about private matters, because you need to reconnect with our people. Maybe we think that talking about the business is the most important thing, but we’re talking to people. You need to get them engaged and feeling because you need them to be part of this discussion.”
– Dirk Echtermeyer, Aptiv at Jugo in July.

Spice Up Your Format

If your team is used to attending hour-long meetings where someone presented slides for the entire time, they’re going to be bored out of their minds. To keep things interesting (and shorter), try changing up the format of your meetings. For example, you could start with a brief overview of what will be discussed, then allow team to also present and take questions.

“We started inviting guests from different walks of life to join us for half an hour– we called it primetime. First, we started with some business leaders for motivation and coaching. Over time we realized that even for the guests, it became very appealing for them to just spend that time with us and have that interaction.”
– Bhushan Patil, Tech Mahindra, at Jugo in July

Encourage Interaction

One of the dangers of virtual meetings is that they can easily become one-sided affairs, with only one or two people doing most of the talking. To avoid this, try to encourage interaction among all participants by asking open-ended questions and leaving time for open discussion at the end of each meeting.

In addition, consider using chat as a way for introverted team members to have a chance to contribute without feeling overwhelmed by large group settings. You could also include interactive tools like polls, chat, Q and A, and emojis to engage your team members. One of the best ways to break through virtual meeting fatigue is to make your meetings more interactive it gets people talking and thinking.

Video On Please

One of the benefits of virtual meetings is that they make it easy to include people who are located all over the world; it removes the distance barrier. While this is convenient, it requires more effort to feel connected to someone who’s half a world away.

Whenever possible, use video instead of audio-only so that you can see each other’s faces and pick up on nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions. Immersive environments are the best way to do this—keeping people engaged, focused, and immersed in content.
Keep it Human and Personalize.

In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s easy to forget that there are real people behind all those screens. Bring a human touch into your meetings with some creativity and effort. Some leaders are trying out virtual lunch or coffee meetings and having it delivered to their remote teams or clients as a welcome surprise.

“We had a wine tasting session and we shipped wine to the client. They had a virtual walkthrough of the vineyard in Italy. It would be difficult to fly everyone in across the globe but now there are new ways to experience and connect.”
– Samir Bagga, CMO L&T Technology Services at Jugo in July

And finally, don’t forget to have some fun! Remember people want connection and authenticity—give a tour of your home office, have people introduce their pets or kids, have a session on a tv show everyone is watching, or a book people are reading.

“We started creating virtual get-togethers every other Friday. We’ll all bring your own drinks, sit in our own chairs at home, and just come together. What we realized that normally if you asked people to attend an office get-together the dropouts will be much higher. We realized that we could do a much better sessions like this, because people will join from all over the place. When you talk about spending an hour together as a team, not talking business, some of these events turned out to be much more likely.”
– Bhushan Patil, SVP Chief Growth Officer, Tech Mahindra at Jugo in July

You can humanize your next virtual meeting and re-energize your team. Remember to treat each person with respect and compassion, especially if technical difficulties arise (because let’s face it, we’re only human after all).

Do you want to step out of the virtual meeting boxes and make your meetings feel in-person? Boost engagement, productivity, and feel like a team again.  Demo Jugo today.

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Take the first step on your journey to creating and delivering truly immersive virtual meetings.

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