3 Ways to Engage Others in a Virtual Setting

Are you having to redefine your workday lately? Many people are working remotely and having to engage their employees, students, or coworkers in meetings and classes. As you begin this new work life, you may be faced with these questions:

    • How do I use technology since I’m not face to face with them?
    • How do I know if they are paying attention if I’m not in the same room as them?
    • Can I just send them an email or document rather than taking the time to have a meeting or class?

Luckily, here at allsynx employees are given the opportunity to work remotely at least one day a week, and when times require it, like now, we have the ability to work remotely while servicing our customers without a hitch. Moving to another state from the employees I supervise and onboarding employees remotely over the past few years, I asked myself many of these questions. Here is what I have learned and am still learning each and every day.

Technology is your friend

Video conferencing makes a world of difference. It doesn’t matter which platform you decide to use but being able to see the other people in your meeting or class helps you understand their feelings, body language, and even their jokes. Many times, you can misperceive a coworker’s or student’s tone if you cannot see their facial expressions.

If video conferencing is not an option, many communication platforms have the ability to create channels, discussion forums, or the good old chat rooms. Creating an open platform for others to ask questions, post a meme, or provide an update quickly develops a sense of virtual community and psychological safety, which was coined by Amy Edmondson in her book, “The Fearless Organization.” You do not always have to be physically sitting in the same room with someone to grow your relationship and trust with them. Having the ability to informally ask questions and inform others in a channel or forum helps bridge that gap with employees and students who may have not communicated otherwise.

Engagement produces results

When you’re on a conference call, do you sometimes multitask? We all do it, but how can we stop others when we’re the ones hosting the class or meeting? Many times, in the leadership classes that I host monthly, I’ll try the therapy trick of allowing people to get uncomfortable with the silence. Sooner or later they will start to speak up because nobody likes the unnerving silence in a class. When you ask another question in the same class, the attendees will immediately speak up knowing that we will wait until someone does.

Also, framing work or training into stories help our brains to pay attention to the speaker.  It also benefits the attendees to remember what was discussed if you connect your story to a common situation. Former Chief Learning Officer for Lynda.com and Senior Learning Consultant for Leadership and Talent Development at LinkedIn, Britt Andreatta, Ph.D. said at MoodleMoot US conference that not only is that relatable, but it is also easier for the brain to remember it by attaching the story to something the attendees already know.

Suggested in the book “Make It Stick” by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A McDaniel is to complete knowledge checks to verify that your attendees are paying attention. You may be thinking, “I’m not a teacher.  Why would I do that in a meeting?” Or if you are an educator you could be wondering, “I have a quiz for that, so why would I need to test during the class?” If you ask someone to recall something you earlier in the same meeting, they are more likely to remember that topic the next day and complete the action items that are necessary. If you don’t ask them to retrieve that information, they are more likely to forget at a more rapid pace. Asking simple questions to relate, or compare a situation to what they’ve experienced, or ask someone to summarize the talking points not only involves others, but also helps clarify the purpose of the conversation. In addition, you will gain a reputation for being an enthusiastic facilitator where attendees will know that they better come prepared to interact.

Do we really need a meeting?

Yes, some meetings could have been covered in an email, but we are social by nature. As human beings, we can comprehend topics faster and easier when you have a conversation. After the meeting, a follow up email, job aid, or sharing an article can go a long way for learning and remembering. Additionally, don’t cut yourself off from others just because you’re working from home. Even if you have a ten-minute meeting or a quick chit chat with your students, you and the others will feel refreshed and rejuvenated afterwards.

Stay tuned for more tips from allsynx, and as always, happy learning!

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