Bring Your Employees Together! Have an Online Company Meeting
Meetings are a Business Event
I was recently asked by a company if I helped with other kinds of business gatherings other than events – like meetings. I was surprised because in my world, business events do include meetings, but I appreciated the question since it told me that I should be clearer in communicating about my range of services. In March, I started hosting and helping others with online events/meetings from one on one business connections up to 100 people attending with different speakers, PowerPoint slides, Videos and use of the breakout rooms for smaller meetings or networking. I never planned for this to happen, but I am now quite a Zoom expert! I also work to create experiences not just events – so I keep my events/meetings both interactive and engaging.
A Live Online Meeting is a More Personal Way to Connect
With a lot of companies still having people working remotely or companies that have people in different regions of the country, having an online meeting using a live platform like Zoom is a more personal way to communicate with your employees that allows for both interaction and engagement and which most closely resembles a live meeting. However, there are not many people within companies that have the knowledge and know how to seamlessly orchestrate these types of meetings. That is where I can help.
An Online Meeting Can Keep Your Employees Informed & Connected
One of the ways I have helped companies so far is to work with them to construct their content to an online format and facilitate the overall online company communication meetings, sometimes called “Town Halls” to share information with remote workers. I have no problem signing a non-disclosure agreement to not share any company secrets and work with the company’s staff to put together an interactive and engaging program. One of the Q & As lasted over a ½ hour, but so many questions were answered, and this made the employees feel part of the company even though they are currently working remotely.
An Online Meeting Can Help Ease Your Employees Fears to Return to the Office
For another company, I worked with them to prepare a program and facilitate the meeting to communicate with remote workers how they will soon reenter back into the workplace. This allowed the company to share what measures they took to ensure the employees safety, how it would be different than before and to prepare their employees to come back to the office. They also allowed a Q & A which was highly interactive and helpful in preparing these workers to return. Going back to the office has now taken place but changes were made due to some concerns brought up by some employees during this meeting, which resulted for a better and easier transition back to the office. The employees also appreciated that their concerns were heard and acted upon.
Online Meetings Are Different from In-Person Meetings
I recommend that the overall online meeting be kept to 2 hours and less. Online content is different than in-person content. It needs to be delivered in shorter time segments with nothing lasting more than 20 minutes. Use of different speakers, PowerPoint slides and videos helps to deliver the content in different ways and keeps the audience (the employees) interest up. The audience need to be both educated how to and encouraged to use the different interaction and engagement tools that are there to use and this can be done in both the invitation to the meeting and gone over again at the start of the meeting. Use of chat – to ask questions to the overall group or to say hi to someone personally they have not seen for a while is one way. Use of the reaction emojis to share if you like what is being said is another. Asking for input by having an employee unmute and talk would be another way. Including prizes and games is another way to keep your audience interested and engaged with the event.
If you will be using different tools like PowerPoint, different speakers (there are ways to pin the video or highlight the speaker talking), use of video and possibly using breakout rooms for other meetings, having someone to facilitate the transitions of the meeting program is a good idea to make a more seamless event/meeting.
Create a Great Experience and make the Meeting Memorable for Your Employees
In addition, you want to create a memorable experience not just have an event/meeting. Experiences lead to memories and you want the content that you are delivering to your employees to be remembered. To further the meeting experience, I usually recommend and consult with who I work with to try to stimulate all 5 senses in addition to building a program that has a lot of interaction and engagement opportunities. This is hard to do online, but not impossible. The sense of smell, taste and touch are the ones that are most hard to stimulate online. If you have developed a program that is interactive and engaging the employees will be using touch to type in chat, select an emoji and to unmute to talk. Another helpful way to help the touch sense is to either have a worksheet or workbook emailed to print or sent to the employee to allow them to follow along and take notes.
Complete the Experience by Stimulating all Five Senses and Send a Meeting Kit
The sense of smell, what many feels is the strongest sense that we have, along with the sense of taste, is not able to be stimulated online. However, you can still have these senses stimulated during the meeting in another way. Like the workbook, you could send a kit to each employee that relates to the overall meeting but also brings to the meeting the sense of smell and taste. Most in-person meetings include beverage and food. You could include in the kit some type of food and/or beverage that stimulates the sense of smell and taste. Some people are sending certificates for food and beverage to be delivered or even arranging food delivery service themselves. If sending kits or certificates for food/beverage to be delivered is not in your budget or your timeline, you could ask the employees to bring certain things to the meeting. Have them bring a cup of coffee and a tasty Danish to the meeting – this will help stimulate both the sense of smell and taste. You could even have as part of the interaction of the meeting having people share with each other what they have brought to the meeting.
In a time when people are feeling isolated and not part of the whole, having a meeting that brings all the employees together in this more personal way is a good idea. In addition, who does not like to receive gifts in the mail? Sending a kit to help stimulate all the senses plus including a treat/gift in the kit to show your appreciation for your employee’s efforts during this hard time will go far.