How to Start a virtual meeting with high energy – and keep it that way
Adapted from Click: The Virtual Meetings Book
You don’t have to look very far to see that virtual meetings are on a meteoric rise. In our own organization during the twelve months leading up to the publication of this article we facilitated more virtual meetings than in the prior five years combined. In fact, one of us facilitated a half-day, face-to-face session for a group in Atlanta and three half-day virtual sessions—two for a group in the UK and one for a group in Poland, all in the same week!
While the demand for virtual meetings is increasing, we can’t say the same thing about the skills of meeting leaders who run these sessions. By nature, virtual meetings are more complex, require more planning to be highly effective, and must be executed in a different way to drive engagement, buy-in, and commitment to action. The new book, Click: The Virtual Meetings Book, describes what meeting leaders need to know to run successful and engaging virtual meetings. In this article, we’ll touch on one important component of engagement – opening with and keeping the energy high.
Opening with Energy
How you deliver the opening of a virtual meeting is important. When a leader speaks in a low monotone with little or no expression, participants get the message that the leader has limited interest in the meeting and low confidence that the meeting will achieve results. When the meeting leader speaks with excitement, interest, and passion about a topic, this feeling is conveyed to the participants.
Depending upon your virtual meeting platform, the participants may not be able to see you, so it is even more important in virtual meetings that you convey energy, interest, and excitement when you speak. Most of us, when we are in casual conversation, speak at what we call Level 1 energy: just loud enough, and with just enough energy, to keep people awake. Unfortunately, when we are leading a meeting over a period of time, our energy level drops and we might put people to sleep! When leading virtual meetings (and face-to-face meetings, as well), consider raising your energy two levels to Level 3. Start the meeting at Level 3, as shown below, and this energy level will likely spill over to energize the topic and the participants.
Along with using Level 3 energy, consider delivering the opening in the following way:
Delivering the Opening Words
- Sit tall; don’t slouch.
- Speak loudly, clearly, and with expression in your voice.
- Vary your tone.
- Use pauses for emphasis.
- Avoid speaking too fast or too slow.
- Be animated, using defined gestures.
- Avoid filler words (e.g., ah, er, and um).
- If appropriate, make eye contact by looking directly at the camera while you are delivering your opening.
When you deliver the opening in this way the participants are more likely to understand why they are there, capture your vision and excitement about the meeting, and understand the role they play and the benefit to them.
Michael Wilkinson is the Managing Director of Leadership Strategies – The Facilitation Company, and a much sought after trainer, facilitator and speaker. He is a Certified Master Facilitator and a Certified Professional Facilitator. As a past president of the Southeast Association of Facilitators and a board member of the National Institute of Facilitation, Michael is a national leader in the facilitation industry. You can get more tips from either of Michael’s books, The Secrets of Facilitation, The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy and Click: The Virtual Meetings Book (coming soon). You can receive a signed copy through our website.