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Collaboration success even when speaking to the void

Categories: Tips

There are meetings with a large number of participants, scheduled for presentations and Q&A discussion, that work well when participants have their camera off. For others, virtual collaboration would benefit from a touch of “virtual face-to-face”. 

Being virtually face-to-face, with your camera on, helps you stay focused, react more spontaneously, and leads to more natural discussions where non-verbal cues are as important as what is being said.  It is more inclusive as well, as those who tend to shy away from participating in “face-to-face” group conversations cannot be easily forgotten, thus are more likely to be invited to contribute.

Unfortunately, despite its many benefits, a “camera-on” collaboration session is hard to demand from all participants. There could also be some technical reasons while it may not be practical. So, how can you still make virtual collaboration a success if you cannot enforce an always-on rule?

Here are a few things we do on the different platforms we use:

  • Raise your hand! Encourage people to use this button when available. It can help you set up the discussion queue or even to signal a request for a break
  • Assign emojis to express agreement (thumbs up emoji), support (clapping emoji), or whatever emotion you’d like to share.  Participants can communicate their feelings and enthusiasm – or lack of – on the chat – even when they’re quietly listening.
  • Some platforms let you see the level of activity of each participant.  When you see they’ve been dormant for a while – check-in on them – perhaps they’re gearing up to share something and you can give them the floor… or something came up, and it’s good to loop them back in.

We do this every day so if you need any support to get your collaborative sessions going, let us know and we’d be happy to help share our best practices.

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