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  • Writer's pictureKate Crawshaw

Tips on successful online gatherings à la Woo

So by now you have been told by about 6000 different people what the best practice for Zoom/Hangouts/WebX.

Over the last few days I have been able to attend a number of free webinars ranging from 12 – 150 people. They have been extremely varied, from a very traditionally presented webinar with communication expert Dr Louise Mahler to the chaos of 150 global practitioners of Playback Theatre with a very others in between.

I have also gone back and reviewed a number of resources from my previous work in online engagement. There are some people who have been working at the coalface of virtual teams for a long time and are not new overnight experts. These include Judy Rees and Lisette Sutherland who have been working on how to maximise online team meetings with remote workers for a long time.

So here is a list of things that have stood out, or come back to mind over the last week.

Most importantly - Gather Better

The top tip is to have a clear intention on why you are getting together, don’t replicate the way you did things in the office online.

Priya Parker, author of Art of Gathering, was interviewed recently by Ted Connects: How to create meaningful connections while apart. The main take away:

The biggest mistake when we are gathering online is that the intention is obvious. – It is not. Don’t assume that the gathering online should look like the gathering offline. Reflect on what the community needs at the moment.

Technical and Operational considerations

  • There is a distortion of time on a webinar (a bit like on radio or TV) 3 seconds of silence can feel like forever.

In the virtual meetings we attended we noted:

  • Body language is still very important! Make sure your camera is not too close and people can still see your arms and hands.

  • Using music and a mix of other media during an online meeting differentiated it from other events. They were more polished, engaging and felt like more special.

  • When managing large groups, engage an assistant to manage the multimedia, breakout rooms etc. This results in a much more fluid and engaging gathering.

  • Breakout rooms – if you are asking people to run an activity on their own, make sure the expectations are very clear. CLARITY is the key to everything.

  • If you are running a long meeting or webinar, you may consider a standing desk, you will sound better (your larynx will be freed up), breathe better and you can use your arms.

  • STAND UP sometimes. There is an array of improvisational activities that translate well online (more about that later).

Behaviour and Meaning

  • People are stressed and this will come out in various ways, but will include

  1. Impairment of response inhibition

  2. Lack of motivation

  3. Change in social behaviours

  4. Aggressive behaviours

  • Psychological safety will be more important than ever, here are some considerations for virtual teams by Judy Rees

  • Work on inclusion during meetings through

  1. Setting guidelines on sharing airtime and how this will be managed

  2. Rhetorical questions

  3. Asking specific people

  4. Doing actions and gestures

  • Commit to being an active participant – give back by nodding and smiling to support those who are currently talking and don’t multi task.

Serious Woo has developed 30 minute Ice-o-lation Breakers for Virtual Teams. Facilitated, energising games and activities for your team to do together to keep them connected, engaged and creative. A small investment for team cohesion, wellness and productivity. Learn more here.


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