For many of us, this week marks the two-year anniversary of a whole new approach to office work. The shift to remote work may not have happened organically, but for a growing number of office jockeys around the world it’s here to stay!

Last year, Blueprint delved into the science behind your “Zoom fatigue.” (Yes, this is a real thing. It turns out that there are very real physiological reasons why video calls are more tiring than face-to-face interaction.)

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In our latest look at how Covid-19 has reshaped the way we work, we’re sharing expert strategies for more engaging video meetings. (You can check out all of the articles in our series here.)

a big video meeting

Identify what needs to change

Writing in the Harvard Business Review,  workplace experts and coauthors of the new book Eat, Sleep, Innovate Scott D. Anthony, Paul Cobban, Natalie Painchaud, and Andy Parker reveal several methods for amping up virtual meetings.

Above all, the first step is admitting there’s a problem:

“Be clear about the specific behavior you are trying to encourage by completing the statement “It would be great if we…”

For example, a team at one company we advised decided that it wished that members would all be mentally present during virtual meetings, enabling vibrant discussions and creative problem-solving.”

Once you identify the cause of the lackluster atmosphere at your meeting, it will be easier to work to improve the environment and engage your team members.

a woman attending a video meeting

Name the specific road blocks to more engaging video meetings

Once you have identified the behaviors or dynamics that need to shift, the next step is figuring out what is contributing to them. The Eat, Sleep, Innovate authors call these contributing factors “behavioral blockers:”

“Identify “behavioral blockers,” or the things you are doing instead of following your desired behavior.

The prompt here is “But instead we…” The virtual meeting group talked about how it felt collective minds wandering as meetings droned on, with people getting distracted by emails, turning to other activities, or simply tuning out.”

For recurring video calls, appoint someone to speak truth to power

Going through the authors’ process of identifying what needs to change and mapping out specific road blocks sets the stage for more engaging video meetings.

However, it’s important to keep iterating the meeting dynamic to ensure that things stay fresh!

Anthony, Cobban, Painchaud, and Parker recommend appointing someone – or several people, on a rotating basis – to act as a sort of meeting jester, able to speak truth to power when things have gone off-track or someone has dominated discussion.

a video meeting in progress

“The virtual meeting team suggested the idea of appointing a Zoom jester. Jesters obviously played a role entertaining a monarch’s guests, but they also played an important, less obvious role.

As the “fool” in the room, they could speak truth to power, saying tough things that would be hard for others to articulate due to fear of reprisal.

Similarly, the Zoom jester would have the authority to tell people when they are monopolizing conversations or meandering. The formal appointment of a jester and a checklist detailing their role would serve as the behavior enabler; a fun Zoom background and a crowdsourced set of “tricks” to spice up meetings would act as reinforcing artifacts and nudges.”

Alternatively, turn your video meeting into a phone call

If you’re still feeling burned out during video meetings, ask stakeholders about ditching cameras altogether. “It is acceptable to request a phone call where a video conference seems unnecessary. Try suggesting that everyone turn their video cameras off unless speaking,” says Carolyn Reinach Wolf, a mental health attorney and columnist for Psychology Today.

We hope these tips and strategies will help you supercharge your next Zoom meeting!

After all, more engaging video meetings help your employees prioritize what matters.

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Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities.

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