4 Ways to Stay Engaged During Online Meetings


Online meetings continue to be a substitute for in-person meetings. This can make it easier to gather a large group of people or keep work-related functions in sync, but the screen provides a major barrier to meaningful engagement.

It’s common for people to feel uncomfortable on Zoom and like they’ll never get used to it. Fortunately, there are helpful strategies to help you feel like you’re connecting with others in the virtual space.
Here are 4 of the best ways to stay engaged during online meetings.

1. Establish Personal Connections
Making personal connections with a lack of proximity can make interactions feel strained or awkward. Keep in mind that everyone in the meeting is facing a similar challenge of staying motivated. Enter the meeting with a positive attitude, ready to keep in touch with your peers.

You can also suggest engaging in energizing group activities similar to what online magician Jon Finch offers as a way to kickstart the meeting or spice things up. The goal is to create a fun atmosphere that helps everyone relax.

Having time for unstructured conversation during meetings also allows everyone the opportunity to check in and establish connections. Following a strict agenda discourages familiarity and makes it less likely for people to speak up.

2. Participate
Virtual meetings make it harder to balance conversation and promote voluntary participation. When all you have to do is shut off your camera and stay silent, it’s easy to avoid interacting. This may seem like an advantage that in-person meetings cannot offer, but it will increase feelings of isolation and dissatisfaction.

Force yourself to chime in when there is a pause in conversation or use the raise your hand function if the platform you are using offers one. People are bound to talk over one another as they would in an in-person meeting, so do not be afraid to speak out of turn accidentally. Participating will help the experience feel more natural for everyone.

3. Minimize Distractions
Creating a space free of as many distractions as possible will limit how often you find yourself distracted during online meetings. In the office or at school, you do not have the same access to your other electronics or belongings. Treat your at-home office the same as you did at work or during in-person classes.

Putting your phone on silent and preventing notifications from being delivered to your computer is a great way to cut down on easily avoidable distractions.
Not all distractions in your home can be avoided if they involve a pet or family member, but try to reduce any stimuli under your control.

4. Take Breaks
Taking breaks may sound like an obvious bit of advice, but many people strain their eyes, leading to fatigue that makes it difficult to stay engaged. Using the 20 20 20 rule presents an easy to follow plan that encourages productivity while maintaining healthy self-care practices.

Build in breaks for more than just basic functions like eating and going to the bathroom. To prevent headaches, restlessness, and feeling sick, you need to have time to shut off your camera and microphone and breathe. Recenter yourself, so you can go back into the meeting ready to be present.

Bottom Line
Staying engaged during frequent online meetings can be a challenge when the temptation to turn off the computer camera and play on your phone is stronger than the urge to participate. Feeling isolated with little time for breaks makes it hard to feel grounded in your daily life.

Online meetings may not satisfy all the needs that in-person interactions can, but it still provides an opportunity for you to continue communicating with your peers. We recommend putting your best foot forward and striving for connection throughout the meeting. If the meeting is long and you need a break, don’t be afraid to ask for it.