The benefits of virtual meetings are well documented. They allow organizations to save money on travel, they make it easier for remote workers to participate, and they allow people who would otherwise have to work at the same time to have more flexibility in their schedules. But there’s one major drawback of hosting virtual meetings: it’s harder to get feedback about how well things went from participants than you would if you were face-to-face with them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to get that valuable information throughout the meeting and beyond.
Here are some ways to…
Get employee feedback during virtual meetings
Create an Agenda and Send it to Participants Before the Meeting
Include a link to the agenda in the meeting invitation. If you’re using a tool like Google Docs, you can create and share your agenda from there. You can even give participants the option to add something to the meeting if it goes with the agenda.
Keep Your Opening Short and to the Point
Before beginning your meeting, take a moment to introduce yourself and the agenda. Then, keep it simple. The opening should be short so that employees don’t feel like they need to spend too much time thinking about what they’re going to say before they have a chance even speak up. A short opening that goes over the meeting intent and highlights the agenda gives everyone a reminder of why they are there and what’s going to happen during the meeting.
Give Opportunities to Get Input
If you don’t leave opportunities for meeting participants to offer their feedback and to respond to what is happening in the meeting, then you won’t get it. If you need to take a vote, or you want to see what ideas sound good to everyone, using polling software is one great option for virtual meetings. Asking questions can also help while giving your employees time to consider their responses. You should also give employees time to share ideas with each other. This will help them feel like they are part of the meeting and not just watching from afar.
Ask People By Name
No one likes to be called out by name when they aren’t paying attention, but by asking an individual directly for their thoughts on an issue, you’re more likely to get a response from them. This is especially true if the meeting impacts them and their team in any way.
When asking a question, use the person’s name. Also, refer back to previous contributions from employees during future meetings by using their names again. This creates an environment where employees feel heard and valued within the organization and makes them more likely to participate in future discussions with enthusiasm and energy. Using names is an important tactic to helping people stay connected during virtual meetings.
End the Meeting on Time
Near the end of the meeting, make sure your employees know how much time they have left to share their thoughts. If you don’t set an actual end time for the meeting and simply let it run until everyone has had a chance to speak, it’s easy for things to go on too long. If people know that they have two minutes to share their thoughts, they might be more strategic and get right to the point.
After the meeting, follow up with employees who offered feedback and participated in the meeting. You can even send out a survey to assess how the meeting went. Anonymous surveys are more likely to elicit an honest response, so keep that in mind. Ask them to share their thoughts and ideas with the team at large. It will help everyone learn from each other’s experiences and improve the process of virtual meetings in the future. If one person dominated the meeting and staff wanted to hear from others, this can be valuable information for future virtual meetings.
It can be tough to get feedback from a remote workforce, but there are some specific things you can do to improve your chances of getting useful insights. Using virtual tools, polls, Q&A tools, and even quick surveys can help people stay engaged and participate even when they are working remotely. Additionally, you can always ask for feedback like, “could this meeting have been an email or e-learning course instead?”
illustration: Online illustrations by Storyset