Fostering Inclusion & Collaboration in Virtual Meetings

Dec 21, 2020 | Advice

As “Zoom fatigue” takes over, you may find yourself between a rock and a hard place – what do you do when everyone is tired of Zoom meetings and video conferencing, but you still need to talk “face-to-face” with your teams to collaborate on upcoming projects? Maintaining a good group dynamic when everyone is in the same office is tough enough, but doing so in a virtual platform can require some extra work from the leaders and participants in every Zoom meeting. Here are some tips for fostering inclusion in virtual meetings.

Realize and Address the Challenges of Each Member’s Environment

As a virtual meeting host, it is good to start with manageable expectations and a great way to do this is by addressing the fact that everyone is working in a diverse environment right now.

Before the meeting, it’s always a good idea to let participants know about the date, time, and expectations for the meeting.

Living situations can complicate virtual meetings and cause unnecessary interruptions – giving your team some heads up can allow them time to make arrangements and create a comfortable meeting space in their home or remote office area.

Roommates, children, spouses, pets – all are distractions that can annoy or even embarrass team members during a virtual meeting. Giving everyone time to plan for the meeting can help foster inclusion by allowing them to create a place that is comfortable for them to join the meeting from their diverse remote environments.

Counteract Isolation by Offering Micro-Affirmations

Micro-affirmations are comments employers and team leaders use to recognize the achievements of others and to increase general professional interest in team members’ accomplishments and expertise.

Take some time to focus on and draw attention to those great ideas and inputs that come up during meetings. It creates an open space for others in your meeting to do the same and allows each team member to see the value in their teammates and also encourages feedback and participation in future meetings.

Build Structured Participation and Leverage Technology to Foster Inclusion

It’s relatively easy to build some structured participation into your virtual meeting. You can prepare specific discussions and have different team members start them or you can incorporate some round-robin strategies. An easy way to do that is to state outright that you would like to hear from everyone in the meeting. Prompt people to take the space they need to voice their opinions in whatever way works best for them.

You can also include other technology, like polls, anonymous Google feedback forms, and other applications and websites that give team members the space to submit opinions in a low-pressure way.

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