Virtual meetings can be a drag. Do you remember how we used to consider live in-room meetings a drag. Now you might long for an in-room boring meeting for a change from Zoom fatigue.
Zoom meetings don’t need to be a drag. One of the reasons is the chat feature. Have you used it recently? Did you find it easy to use? Have you noticed how useful it can be when used effectively?
My experience in attending virtual meetings and delivering virtual presentations is that the chat is an exceptional tool for group engagement.
The chat offers you benefits as the meeting leader or presenter that you can’t enjoy in a live presentation.
Consider these points:
Participants can spontaneously type their comments or questions into the chat any time, and you can choose to acknowledge them immediately, periodically or ignore to suit the flow of your meeting.
You will tend to get a higher percentage of your audience actively contributing because there are those who prefer not to speak up but find it easier to write a short chat. It feels safer to chat then to speak.
You will see more diverse views in the chat because they aren’t competing with the loudest voice in the room. And it’s safer to express an opinion in the chat than to speak out in the group especially if your opinion seems to be the outlier.
When you ask people to respond in the chat you will tend to get better and shorter responses. Why? Because people need to think before they write so the written word will be more thoughtful. They will write less because they might be lazy about writing long phrases.
When you ask people to speak instead of writing – they often start speaking before they start thinking, so the group must tolerate the blather that spews from their mouth while they’re still thinking.
When people speak, they tend to use more subjective instead of objective words and express more opinion instead of facts.
Have you noticed that people are more likely to edit their written words than their spoken words?
The chat encourages people to think. What could be a higher form of engagement than that?
Participants can send private messages in the chat that might stimulate thought, conversation and next steps. Of course, it could just be idle chatter especially when they are bored. At least they are still engaging other participants. At least they aren’t disrupting the meeting by passing notes around the room like we did in class many decades ago.
Should you only use the chat for group interaction. Of course not. On Zoom, you can also use rooms, polls, and open microphones.
There are many more forms of audience engagement that you can read about on this blog. Be sure to come back for more presentation, communication and engagement tips and ideas.
Yes, I am a big fan of using the chat feature in your Zoom meetings and presentations to engage your audience throughout the meeting.
Add your questions and thoughts about Zoom chat in the comments below. Pretend you are chatting on Zoom.
Let’s Chat soon.
After I delivered a half day workshop on Zoom, one out of 24 participants wrote in the feedback comments, “I’m not a fan of Chat”.
The program coordinator seemed to suggest that this was a negative comment about the workshop that we needed to address. Unfortunately, the feedback was anonymous which means that we could not discuss the context of this comment with the person.
So we’re left with speculation.
The Chat encourages more people to participate. Did this person prefer not to hear from the rest of the team?
The Chat requires people to think and type. Did this person prefer not to do one or both of those activities?
The Chat discourages the loud speakers. Was this person a loud mouth?
The Chat requires typing. Was this person using a device that made it difficult to type?
The Chat allows an atmosphere of controlled and thoughtful exchange? Was this person a bully?
What other possibilities can you think of? I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.