Even though virtual meetings have become second nature, do not assume people online are engaged and connected.
In virtual meetings people are far less inclined to engage in small talk.
And let’s not forget, small talk is a timeless and timely gesture that strengthens and deepens our relationships.
“Hanging out” before a meeting or “lingering” when the meeting ends don’t seem to happen online, yet casual conversation and personal connection are critical to building high-performing teams.
These days as we pop up on the screen, we talk to everyone or don’t talk at all.
Online meeting etiquette has morphed into starting on schedule or as soon as the key players sign on. This means “shooting the breeze” has vanished.
So although there’s no virtual replacement for in-person, press the flesh business gatherings, if you plan well, you can use small talk to help you grow performance, engagement and connection even virtually.
Here are a few ideas to borrow from:
Set the tone, log on early, unmute, turn on your camera and don’t be shy. “Shoot the breeze,” chat with others before the meeting begins.
Give people an easy way to share personal and professional updates. One of our clients asks team members to place a red, yellow or green dot next to their name in two columns (personal and professional) and then they engage in a round robin:
- Yellow/No Changes
- Red/Not So Good
As an icebreaker, ask everyone to submit a baby picture to the meeting host. Open each meeting by showing a different picture and give your attendees the opportunity to guess who.
Randomly invite people to open or close a meeting by completing this sentence: “My job matters because…“
Open your next meeting by inviting everyone to brainstorm creative ideas on a big business issue or challenge. Remind people of the rules of brainstorming. Lofty ideas are welcome and criticism is not.
Open each meeting by asking one person to share two unique truths and a lie about themselves, then have people guess the lie.
Finally, add unstructured time at the end of the meeting for people who want to linger.