The ritual that can help you to enhance the effectiveness and focus in your online meetings!

Last week I have already shared some tips from highly effective leaders and my own experience how you can boost the engagement in your online meetings. The worst thing that can happen in online meetings is disengagement of participants as it will heavily impact on the effectiveness and, hence, the motivation to work online. The feedback and the conversations I had subsequently to last week’s blog reminded me of another tip which can help you in creating focus in your online meetings to boost engagement and effectiveness.

The magic word is: “Check-In”.

If this sounds like boarding a plane, that’s indeed not a bad metaphor.

At the start of every meeting you, as the host, make a quick round of all participants, checking in with questions like these:

  1. How are you today? (How do you feel today?)
  2. What is most important for you to get out of this meeting?
  3. What you need to switch off from to be fully present?

You can use permutations to question 1 by adding focus areas like: “body and mind”, “heart and mind”, or even ”body and soul”. That depends on the context and the quality of relationship you have with the people participating.

  • The first question encourages people to express how they feel, how they arrive in your online meeting. So you are prepared about their state of mind which can help you and others very much to understand their reactions to certain subjects discussed. Especially in the current crisis this step is highly relevant to give people the space to share some of their feelings and to build or strengthen the sense of community!
  • The second question creates the focus and encourages people to think and share what they really want out of this meeting. That feedback on their expectations helps you facilitate discussions to meet the most common ones.
  • The third question helps the participants to switch off for a moment from other things buzzing through their mind: all the non-stop news flashes they might be exposed to about the spread of the virus or concerns they have about their loved ones. It helps them to really arrive with their thinking in your meeting.

In a round of 10 people this should not take more than five minutes. So some pace is required but still with enough time for people to respond well to the three questions. Yet the specific circumstances of the crisis may ask for more space/time for the check-in for people to ‘arrive’ mentally in the meeting.

In our experience this little ritual helps very much to create more engagement and focus in a meeting, especially in a virtual meeting. The time invested pays back easily!

“Check-out” is equally valuable

In addition to the check-in ritual, we also recommend you are doing a check-out at the end of each meeting. This helps the participants review their expectations, contributions and commitments. Two points are valuable to ask about: emotions of participants, and intended actions.
The latter is easy, and should be the last question: “what actions are you taking away from this meeting?”.
The emotional check might depend on how the meeting went. For a straightforward meeting: “how do you feel as you leave the meeting?”. For one where it did not run well you can add: “what was good in how we ran the meeting, and where can we improve?”. And after intense, exhausting meetings it can be useful to ask “what is your energy level now that we are finished?”

We are sure you can think of more combinations for these questions. Our simple recommendation is that you try it out and see what works best for you and in your context.

If you like to explore more about these and other simple rituals for effective meetings please get in touch  – we are happy to discuss the subject in more detail. Or you can leave a comment below.