Is there anything worse in a virtual meeting or call than the deafening silence that descends after you ask a question? That is why we must increase interaction in virtual meetings.
It’s not just happening to you. Interaction in virtual meetings is an ongoing challenge for sellers, presenters, team leaders, and meeting facilitators alike. Why? Because people have proven to be much more passive in a virtual environment. And the more people in your meeting, the more passive they become!
But before you complain about your audience, it’s really not their fault. As humans we have been conditioned to settle into “receiver-mode” when seated in front of a screen. And double-down on that for customers who are expecting to hear a pitch or presentation.
The problem is not that our audience is passive, it’s how we respond to that passivity.
For example, when most people pose a question in a virtual meeting, they wait less than five seconds in silence before jumping in and answering their own question. This sets a dangerous precedent. By filling in the void you have just trained your audience that their participation is not required. Do this more than once and you can expect to hear nothing but crickets the entire meeting.
Besides sitting with that pause longer than feels comfortable (I recommend at least ten seconds), how can we get our audience to respond to our questions? There is one surprisingly simple and overlooked tactic that can increase interaction in virtual meetings by as much as 90%.
Do this to Increase interaction in virtual meetings:
Look into the camera when you ask a question, and hold your gaze there until you get an answer.
What’s so revolutionary about looking at the camera when asking a question? Well, most people ask it while staring at the images on their screen. This is the in-person equivalent of staring at the ground. If you really wanted someone to answer your question in person, you would look them in the eye, right? This incongruent behavior virtually introduces just enough doubt to keep your audience silent.
“Is that a question? Is she talking to me?” your audience wonders.
Follow this behavior by answering your own question and you confirm your listener’s suspicion that your question was indeed rhetorical.
Improving Interaction with large virtual groups:
It’s even more important that you look at the camera when asking a question when you have a group of people in your virtual meeting. Without this visual cue, it’s easy for everyone in the meeting to defer responsibility for answering. After all, you’re not looking at them!
Conversely, if you look at the camera you make each person feel like you are speaking just to them. This shift in responsibility will automatically increase your odds of getting someone to speak up. I’ve had many clients tell me that with this single adjustment they went from getting a response to their questions from 10% to 90% of the time. Pretty impressive for a simple change in behavior!
Knowing when and how to look at the camera is a vital skill to interact and connect with passive virtual audiences.
But, like many virtual skills, it’s counter-intuitive and takes focused practice and feedback to become muscle memory. My new book below will walk you through how to do it, but for more focused instruction and practice on all of the skills necessary to engage and influence with confidence on camera, check out my self-paced Selling On Video Master Class.
If you are ready to tap into the power of building personal virtual relationships through the screen, I’ve laid the path out for you in my new book, Look Me In the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers, Partners and Teams. In it you’ll find all the steps and tactics you need to engage your audience.
Get your copy today on Amazon!