You have undoubtedly at some point in your life, probably more than once, been sitting in a meeting trying to listen to the speakers and pay attention but finding yourself unable to stop being distracted and losing focus. This problem is only made worse in virtual meetings when all the participants are likely to be in the comfort of their own home with even more distractions making it even harder to concentrate, especially on topics that are somewhat less than engaging. Don’t worry, you are not alone. This is quite common and to address this issue, below we have provided a few tips on how to run a compelling virtual meeting to keep your attendees focused on the task at hand.
The 10% Rule
Regardless of what you say, how you say it, and how much content you cover, the average person will forget roughly 90 percent of what they hear within about 48 hours and unfortunately, the 10 percent that they do remember is completely random. This means that you’ll need to grab and keep your audiences’ attention. Try to use visuals to display each message you are trying to convey and follow with an explanation of each one. This will provide multiple stimulants that will help the information stick into a person’s mind. Things like videos, pictures, and virtual whiteboards are great tools to use in this area.
Prevent Possible Distractions
When you are on camera, you want the audience to be focused on you. Not in an egocentric way but simply because they will listen better if they are looking at you instead of something else, namely, anything going on in the background behind you. The best way to prevent this is to implement a virtual background to hide anything behind you and keep the attention on your face rather than what is around you. You can pick and manage virtual backgrounds here from Hello Backgrounds and they really do make that much difference. You can use them to either hide sensitive information, cover up a messy house, or simply to add some humor to your meeting as there are plenty of options to choose from.
As we mentioned before, one of the biggest problems with virtual meetings is that people can get bored, they tend to see themselves as just an observer or an audience member and can quickly tune out what’s going on. It is important to remember that you are hosting a meeting, not a webinar or a presentation, make sure to interact with the other people in your conference call as much as possible. Use an interactive tone, use the chat and poll features, maybe have each member take control of a certain topic. These things, when put together will not only prevent people from losing interest but will also provide a sense of accomplishment and teamwork knowing they have a noticeable part to play.
Break Up Long Meetings
Long meetings are hard when you’re face to face, over the internet even more so. Try to keep any virtual meeting to under 45 minutes long and if you go over 30 minutes make sure to take at least one break midway through to give people a chance to mentally refresh themselves and stay focused.
The 5-Minute Rule
The 5-minute rule states that you should spend no more than 5 minutes on any given topic. Any longer and your attendee’s attention spans will likely begin to dwindle, leading to their minds wandering and them almost instantly forgetting what you said. This takes some practice but in those 5 minutes, you essentially want to cover your topic, get feedback, or briefly discuss it, and then move on. Using interactive features like virtual whiteboards, screen sharing, and slides can also be used to quickly and efficiently get the information across.