By Sam Kolbert-Hyle, President & CEO, BrandLive
With the shift from remote work, to hybrid, to on-site and back again, one thing remains true — distributed work is here to stay. This is especially true when it comes to running meetings, where digital tools have become the norm.
Time spent in meetings has been rising by 8% to 10% annually since 2000, with the majority of respondents (about 83%) saying they spend up to a third of the workweek in meetings. Unfortunately, meeting effectiveness may be on the decline. In a recent study, 91% say they have daydreamed during meetings, 39% have slept during meetings, and 73% have worked on other things during meetings. More specifically, most people tune out of a PowerPoint presentation after 10 minutes, but 89% of people still use PowerPoints to deliver a presentation.
Unfortunately, between screen fatigue and distractions from highly engaging social media content, it can be tough to cut through and make an impact in a virtual environment. With audiences always one click away and multitasking in another tab, companies need to be increasingly deliberate about virtual meeting effectiveness and the level of content needed to keep participants engaged.
What does it take to leverage your company’s content to go from boring to binge-worthy?
Identify Your Company’s Standout Moments
Companies should start by identifying standout moments for the business in which an everyday, flat video meeting is not going to be enough. While not all meetings will require the development of high-impact meeting content, thinking critically about the ultimate purpose of a given meeting will help to identify which company content needs to be “next-level.”
Are you informing or inspiring? Are you monitoring or motivating? Widely used tools like Zoom or Meet may be effective for small group collaboration, informing employees of policy changes or an interactive web demo for a prospect. But what about meetings that are intended to inspire, energize or change behavior?
Think about meetings that might have typically been done live in a special venue, such as marketing off-sites, product launches, all-hands meetings or investor days. Your company can’t afford for these marquee moments to be a miss.
Make TV Quality Production a New Standard
Technology has been a major driver in distributed work. But for your company’s standout moments, a solid virtual meeting platform may be necessary but not sufficient in driving higher-level outcomes.
At this point, everyone expects high engagement value from digital content. And why wouldn’t they, when the average adult consumes about 3 hours a day of TV per day. While meeting subject matter needs to remain professional and on-point, data shows that engagement numbers go through the roof when the entertainment value is strong.
This includes things like bold visual branding, changing scenery for specific speakers and the integration of well-edited video. You want customers to feel the power of your products, employees to have an emotional connection to the company and investors to feel inspired by what is to come. This is your brand and message on stage, so don’t skimp on the quality of the production — from visuals to audio to the impactful words that you use.
Build in Authentic Interactions
Social media has set a new bar for authentic and instant interactive experiences. With the average adult spending 2 hours 27 minutes a day on social media, audiences have been conditioned to share thoughts and opinions and expect some kind of reaction in return.
An effective way to move beyond a sleep-inducing slide presentation is to integrate the kind of audience interaction that people have come to expect from their social media lives outside of work. For example, incorporate the option for people to ask questions anonymously. Build in polling or a group chat segment after big news is shared.
Integrating the audience into the content makes it a lot harder for attendees to “look away” and is a key ingredient in building events that are engaging and memorable.
Create an Experience That is Greater Than Its Component Parts
Some company initiatives can be achieved by following a checklist. But company events that break through are not just about having the right component parts. Virtual meeting effectiveness is often about how the various parts — the color, sound, words, video, tempo and interactivity — are brought together to create a single experience — a little like television production.
Building a high-impact experience is ultimately a creative process for which there is no precise manual. With that in mind, be sure to have creative talent on the planning team and give them a voice. Being creative in a corporate environment can sometimes be intimidating. But, virtual event planning is a lot more like choreography than project planning, so let your creative resources shine.
When the average person hears their company is about to have an All-Hands meeting, they think of experts droning on and on about information that could have just as easily been a Slack Message. While there is time and expense associated with creating content, there is real value in shaking things up. Bringing attendees content they can’t look away from will not only give your attendance and engagement numbers a boost but will turn up the fun in an otherwise mundane process.