Zoom and other virtual meeting spaces helped save personal and professional relationships across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we all adjusted to an explosion in the prevalence of virtual teams, which have since revolutionized the modern workplace, the challenges were — and still are, quite honestly — clear.
The lighting. The sound. The background. The Wi-Fi. The inadvertent interruptions from partners, kids, pets, and even unexpected doorbells. It all adds up to Zoom fatigue.
And that is not even half of it.
Using technology and virtual meetings to communicate, nurture professional relationships, and increase revenue inherently leaves participants feeling disconnected. While the calls for employees to return to the office are being met with resistance, a structured hybrid approach is a resounding answer to encouraging a productive workspace.
This means Zoom meetings will remain a large part of the business culture.
So, how do we leverage virtual meeting platforms to remain connected to new hires, seasoned employees, upper management, prospective and existing clients, and vendors? How do we build trust with essential teams that rely on technology to communicate? We have answers.
Pre-Meeting Preparation & Communication
Before the meeting, create an agenda and provide participants with links, documents, and other reference materials to actively engage in the conversation.
When meeting organizers set well-defined objectives and clearly communicate the purpose of the meeting before it starts, participants are more likely to trust that their time is being valued and used productively.
Be Punctual & Prepared
Whether you are the organizer or participant, being punctual shows that you respect everyone else’s schedules and demonstrates that you are a positive addition to the conversation. If you were emailed meeting documents, read them before the meeting and have them available when it starts. When other participants feel others are unprepared (deservedly or otherwise), there is an immediate lack of trust.
Use Video & Active Nonverbal Cues
While appearing on video is not everyone’s favorite, it helps participants see facial expressions and body language, enhancing the sense of connection. Nonverbal cues, like nodding and smiling, show engagement and empathy.
Introduce Participants, Their Roles & Backgrounds
It is not uncommon to see unfamiliar faces in Zoom meetings. Immediately, this sends everyone scrambling for details about the participants, which takes their attention away from the forum.
Begin the meeting by making sure everyone’s role and background is clear, paying special attention to newcomers or infrequent attendees. Ask participants to share something personal (even as simple as where they’re located) to help establish personal connections and foster a sense of belonging. Inclusivity helps build trust and respect.
Actively Listen and Encourage Openness
Actively listening to each person and thoughtfully responding to their comments encourages open dialogue and shows you value their input. Encourage participants to ask questions and address any concerns they might have. Share your thoughts, experiences, and challenges when relevant. If you aren’t sure if it’s appropriate (or don’t have the opportunity to) interject, use the visual response button or the meeting chat to show support and add to others’ messages. While engaging publicly may feel vulnerable, this vulnerability can encourage others to do the same, fostering a sense of authenticity and trust while demonstrating your willingness to be transparent and responsive.
Follow Agendas, Stay Focused & Manage Time Effectively
Demonstrate that you are organized and respect other participants’ commitments by sticking to the meeting agenda. Allocate time for each agenda item and stay on track. Reliable behavior and respecting participants’ time build trust in your ability to lead or participate in a productive meeting.
Align the Team Through Technology
Share meeting notes, action items, and next steps with participants and ensure consistency across all communication platforms using resources like shared calendars, collaboration channels, online filing systems, and project management tools. This demonstrates accountability and helps keep everyone on the same page. It can also encourage participants to provide feedback on the meeting format, content, and structure to reduce redundancies and improve processes while showing you value their input.
Building trust virtually requires all four elements of the Trust Equation, credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation, to facilitate meaningful interactions and collaborate effectively.
Trust-Based Resources to Maximize Your Team’s Potential:
- Four-Part Blog Series: The 80/20 Rule for Virtual Relationships I, II, III, IV
- Take the Trust Quotient (TQ) Assessment.
- Insider’s Guide, The TQ: What You Need to Know.
- Subscribe to our newsletter.
- Follow us on LinkedIn or Instagram.
- Contact us directly to encourage cultural change in your organization through a trust-centric framework that pulls everyone together.