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Sometimes it’s hard to feel like connections are being made in digital meetings. The convenience of hosting a meeting online overshadows connection that may be lost when you aren’t meeting in person.

However, there are still ways to create connections in your online meetings. Board Meetings, Annual Meetings, Townhalls, and the like, are essential to the maintenance of a community. Here are some tips your board can implement to help cultivate connection at your next meeting!

Have a clear agenda ready.

It’s important to have a clear agenda ready when the meeting starts, to avoid things like going over time or getting sidetracked. This also means having a facilitator for each meeting. The facilitator can change each time or stay the same, as long as the expectation of who it will be is clear for each meeting.

Informal small talk.

Engaging in small talk is a way for people to connect with each other, whether online or in person. As the facilitator, asking attendees about their day and taking time to chat with anyone who wants to engage in small talk is a great way to get the ball rolling and get people engaged. Before the meeting starts, while you’re waiting for attendees to arrive, and even after the meeting concludes, chatting with people can help build and maintain relationships with other meeting goers.

Engaging/interactive slides.

If slides will be included in the meeting, this provides as great opportunity to build connect by making the slides enjoyable and interactive. Zoom meetings offer the ability to enable polls, which the presenter can use to gauge attendee’s responses to certain topics. There are also great outside resources like SlidesGo, that aide in leveling up any slides and encourage engagement.

Create pauses between statements/questions.

Sometimes timing can be difficult in an online meeting, which can lead to people feeling discouraged to share their thoughts. As the facilitator, if there is input you want, ask the question clearly and leave a pause to allow people time to unmute and respond. People who have an answer or idea will be happy to join in on the conversation.

Set time limits.

Meeting fatigue can be caused by too many meetings, or one continuous meeting. If left unchecked, a digital meeting can run for considerably longer than originally intended. Make sure to keep a time limit on the meeting, and if multiple people are presenting, set an expectation beforehand of the time limit for each person. Many boards choose to include a time in their agenda for homeowners to pose questions and concerns, generally allotting a three-minute time slot for each owner to present their topic.

Make participation optional.

Having a meeting digitally will encourage homeowners to attend because of the convenience, but this also means they might choose to simply listen in, rather than engage actively. Setting a precedent that having their camera on and engaging in conversation during the meeting are optional will make meeting goers more at ease and might even help them focus more on the information from the board, rather than what they would have had to say in response or how they might look on camera.

As we continue further into the digital age where meetings can be hosted in our PJs and the comfort of our homes, it is important that we continue to strive for connection with our community by taking time to figure out ways to stay engaged.