Stop the Snoozefest: Three Moves for Leading a Better Remote Meeting
by Lindsey Cloud
It’s 2 PM. You sit slumped at your desk or kitchen table, chin in your hands, as a voice drones out of the speakerphone. Aside from a few awkward silences and inadvertent interruptions, the tone, pace, and energy never change. You begin to wonder what other useful tasks you might accomplish. Washing dishes makes it hard to unmute with soapy hands. Vacuuming is clearly out, but you’re tempted because it would drown out the soul-crushing monotony.
There’s a better way, and it doesn’t have to mean fewer calls. (That’s a discussion for another day.) These three tactics can help steer any conference call or remote meeting out of the snooze zone:
Stand. You’ll be surprised by the improvement in vocal energy when you stand up and— even better—move around. Get a headset, prop up your device, and arrange your home or office set-up to allow for a little extra freedom of movement. If you consider how most of us sit hunched over a phone or a laptop all day, it’s no wonder that the energy in our voice wanes. You’ll feel the difference right away once your voice is more supported by your newly-lifted posture. Stand up and open up your body language whenever possible. Others will hear the difference right away.
Switch it up. Whenever possible, change something. Modulate your tone and/or your pace. Slow down and emphasize a big point. Take a pause. Turn part of the meeting over to another person. If you’re using a slide or other visual aid, put it up only as long as necessary. Let your facial expressions be the main focus. The key is to keep your audience a bit off balance. Predictability equals boredom. Avoid it at all costs during your meetings.
Solicit active participation. Engage your audience any way you can. Poll them in the chat. Ask a direct question of a subject matter expert. Give everyone a moment to think about the answer to a question, and then call on a few volunteers to share. If participants get the impression that their involvement is both welcomed and expected, they will stay awake accordingly.
Always, always remember that when you’re speaking, no one will be more interested in what you’re saying than you are. Set the bar accordingly.
Happy meeting, everyone. Go out there and stop the snoozefest. You got this.