Few things in life are more uncomfortable than awkward silence. In some instances, this can occur because a person does not know how to respond to what was just said, while in other cases, people just lose focus and inadvertently drop out of the conversation. No matter how you slice it, though, awkward silence is just that.
In business, such a moment is highly undesirable, especially when a team video conference is happening. Typically, this is the venue in which productive discussions are meant to be had. People give and receive updates on company projects and initiatives, or brainstorm concepts for future endeavours. When these video calls get silent…eek.
As hard as it might be to recover from that awkward silence, it is actually quite easy to prevent it from happening in the first place. In order to accomplish this, however, a little bit of pre-staff meeting strategy needs to be conducted. Once some proper planning has been completed, you can expect conversations to continually flow.
Here's how to stop your virtual meetings from getting too quiet:
Define a Meeting Lead
When an online meeting commences, it is risky business to not put someone in charge of it. Generally, the meeting lead is tasked with keeping the momentum of the live video chat online going.
Conversely, when a virtual meeting does not have anyone at the helm of it, it can go sideways in a hurry. More often than not, the meeting lead will have been responsible for creating an agenda for the gathering. This agenda outlines which topics will be brought up during the live video chat online and who will be required to speak/present.
With this agenda in place, the meeting lead can direct the video conference accordingly and ensure participants are fully engaged at all times. This will certainly keep people chatting for the duration of the team meeting.
Keep the Length of the Meetings Concise
There have likely been times in which you have been attending a video conference and wondered why the heck it was taking so long to get through. More often than not, this happens because the call is not properly organized/structured, which can lead to participants hopping back and forth on topics instead of moving in a straight line.
If the agenda created by the meeting lead is effective, those on the video call will recognize there is only a finite amount of time available to get through everything. Having time-related parameters in place will most certainly minimize the chance of prolonged pauses.
Ask for Ideas
Even when a meeting agenda feels rock solid, there could be lulls. As such, meeting leads need to be aware of this and prepared to pivot. One way to successfully do this is to encourage other video conference participants to share their thoughts and ideas on some of the matters discussed.
These interactions will not just halt the possibility of awkward silence, it could also prove to be a beneficial endeavour. After all, sometimes it is these unplanned team conversations that lead to the best ideas.
Do Not Dominate the Conversation
Whether you are the meeting lead or just a video call participant, you do not want to be that individual who tries to dominate the conversation. When this happens, much of the air is taken out of the room.
Some cohorts will tune out entirely and not feel compelled to jump in with an opinion. You see, not everyone recognizes their long-winded journey to a point can result in stalling staff dialogue and project progression.
If you think you are this person, consider trimming down your points and leaving room for others on the call to have a voice.