How to Plan Engaging Virtual Meetings Part 2

EP 23 how to plan engaging virtual meetings part 2 team anywhere leadership skills
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This is part two of our special 2-part series on Engaging Virtual Meetings- if you missed the first part, you can find it here.

Engaging virtual meetings is one of the most relevant topics for leaders leading remote teams today. You can actually create stronger levels of engagement in online meetings than you can in in-person meetings. How can you do that? Well, one of the biggest keys has to do with intentional design. The reason why you can create stronger levels of engagement comes down to your ability to break people into their own breakout rooms instantaneously, much faster than what would occur in person, and create space for a quieter more personal space for people to connect with each other (and introverts love that).

This week, we’re releasing part two of our 2-Part episode on Engaging Virtual Meetings. In this series, we speak with virtual meeting expert, John Chen to learn tips on how to plan engaging virtual meetings. Inside this second episode you’ll learn tips for designing your virtual meetings with tips on what to do before, during and after the meeting, how to get people to show up to meetings on time, and how to tell if they’re really engaged in the first place.

how to keep people's attention in virtual meetings

Are You Engaging Virtual Meetings?

During John’s experience in teams, he says the easiest way to tell if you’re engaging your team is that the winning teams will talk all the time. Losing teams will stop talking and give up on each other. Your role as the virtual meeting leader is to continually encourage a high amount of connection through talking.

engaging virtual meetings get people to show up on time

How to get people to show up to Zoom Meetings on time

If you wait for everyone else to show up, the impression you’re giving the attendees is “I’ll always wait for you.” The next time your meeting time begins, jump right into business whether everyone is there or not. The people who are late will have to catch up and, most likely, they’ll only be late for a meeting once. If you stick with this approach, you show the one person who shows up on time is that you respect their time, especially your online time.

Virtual Meeting Ideas

Schedule one hour just for fun and connection every two weeks.

Spend time during this meeting specifically to learn something about your team member that you may not know.

engaging virtual meetings- schedule time for fun

Have a Window for Discussion Before & After the Actual Meeting

Open up your meetings before they begin. Give time for your participants to connect with each other on different issues that won’t be conducted during the meeting. After meetings, allow people to have conversations with each other.

Meeting Introduction

  • Play Music
  • Have a fun/interesting Zoom Background
  • Acknowledge every person who logs into the meeting.

Virtual Meeting Icebreakers

The best virtual meeting icebreakers accomplish two things, they create fun and clarify expectations:

Create Fun:

Dedicate 3-5 minutes in the beginning of the virtual meeting to doing something fun.

Clarify Expectations:

One virtual meeting icebreaker you can do is have everyone take turns sharing their name, role, location, and one thing they’re expecting from this meeting or one thing they’ve achieved from the last meeting. This is a great way to start the meeting and to get everyone to start by opening up and engaging.

Virtual PowerPoint Karaoke

One great example of a virtual meeting icebreaker is virtual PowerPoint Karaoke.


Separate participants into teams, have them present a slide deck they’ve never seen before. (Take something that’s a skill that your team members need and make it fun.) Have one team present at the beginning of each meeting.

Have the presenters follow two rules for the presentation:

Rule #1: Focus on your transition (Perhaps the slides have things that definitely don’t connect).

Rule #2: Say Yes and to every response and question you get on the presentation.

Air Traffic Control Race

Say “let’s see how fast we can check in with everybody, tell me your name, your role or your location and one thing you expect from this meeting.” Turn on your stop watch and make it a race. Have everyone raise their hand and call on one person as a time as they put their hands down. The first time, with 20 people, this might take 20 minutes, but if you practice over and over, you could do it in less than 2 minutes.

During the Meeting

Engage Every Person in the Meeting at least once

To engage every person, focus on important tools such as asking people to raise their hand, to ask questions in the chat, and to share emojis that communicate their thoughts and feelings.

  • Leverage Chat
  • Leverage Break-Out Rooms

Involve the Audience Throughout the meeting.

The meeting is different because you (the audience) are there. Speakers can feed off the interaction from the audience in engaging virtual meetings. The meeting is different because the audience is present. The audience is sharing emojis, asking questions, commenting, etc.

How to make virtual meetings fun

To make virtual meetings fun, and establish a high level of psychological safety, virtual meeting facilitators can do three things.

  • Play Games- If you’re trying to get everyone to practice a new skill, make it a game.
  • Laugh more- Let people laugh with you, bring more laughter into the meetings.
  • The “Yes, and” Response – To acknowledge everyone’s ideas and contributions and add to what they are saying
  • Improv- Don’t be afraid to wing a conversation, use your best improv skills to keep it funny and light

What advice would you give for 2021

Imagine that the future of your team is going to be remote and invest heavily in it. John met many people who believed that the pandemic was going to be over in six weeks. Then three months later they thought it was going to be over in a few weeks. Then the cycle repeated itself. John’s biggest recommendation is to invest heavily in having your teams build their skills in remote teamwork and engaging virtual meetings. After all, what is the difference between employees working for your company versus another company when they are working remotely? Truly the difference is just a different URL for the meeting. But if you and your team can focus on building the teamwork, trust, and connection to become a high performing remote team, then when you trickle into the office once the pandemic is over, you will be in a very good place.

Best Tips for Virtual Meetings

Take time to design meetings

You’re the host take the time to create the culture in your meetings

Up your meeting game

Get a producer or hire someone to design your meetings so that you can focus on creating the meetings

Learn more virtual techniques

Look for the best practices- what you love- borrow it and put it in yours

About John Chen:

John Chen, founder of Geoteaming and author of Engaging Virtual Meetings. He has truly figured out how to create engaging virtual meetings. John has delivered his message to over 230,000 participants in over 30 countries.

Upcoming Classes from John Chen:

  • Turn on the Damn Camera
  • Hey, You’re on Mute
  • Virtual Team Building
  • The Virtual Presenter

Online Courses for Leaders Leading a Team From Anywhere:

Check out these online courses for remote leaders from the Team Anywhere Team.

How to Be an Effective Remote Manager | How to Build Virtual Accountability



Engaging Virtual Meetings

Engaging Virtual Meetings Group

Learn more about how we help you build teams of remote leaders here.

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