3 ways to run emotionally intelligent Zoom meetings

The future of remote work is likely to be hybrid, according to McKinsey, so Zoom meetings are here to stay. And if you haven’t learned how to lead emotionally intelligent remote meetings yet, now is the time.

While it might be easy to think that it’s the same thing as having an in-person meeting, don’t be fooled. Being bad at video calls could make you miss out on precious team-building moments, decrease team engagement and lead to drops in productivity. So, what’s the difference between a Zoom meeting and an old-fashioned gathering in a conference room?

“The main differences to keep in mind when aiming to run an emotionally intelligent Zoom meeting vs. an in-person one are the energy of the room, the presence of the group, body language and the technical differences and challenges,” says business coach and NLP trainer Kara Filion. “Those differences matter because it is important to adapt to the way a meeting is being presented if it is on Zoom vs if it is in person.”

NLP is short for neuro-linguistic programming, a field of practice that helps people change their thoughts and behaviors to produce positive results in their lives and careers.

Its process involves developing better self-awareness as well as awareness of others, which has a direct impact on emotional intelligence. And you sure need heightened awareness to harness the power of EQ on a video call.

We’ve asked Fillion to share her insights on running emotionally intelligent Zoom meetings. The benefits? Not only will you come across as a more powerful communicator and inspiring leader, but you’ll also foster a stronger team culture and improve results.

1. Start with a positive check-in

Getting straight to business is never the best idea to kick off a meeting, but it’s even worse remotely when you have fewer opportunities to establish rapport and set the tone for the kind of meeting you want to have.

Fillion recommends starting your Zoom meetings with a positive-check in to make sure attendees don’t start checking out from the get-go and encourage participation.

“In order to elevate the energy of the room and have a group that is engaged and present in the meeting, I like starting with a quick positive check-in,” she says.

She suggests using ice-breakers such as “What are you celebrating today?” “What are you grateful for?” or “What are you looking forward to this week?” to energize the group and create an environment where people are curious, open and receptive.

2. Tap into the energy of the group

“Because body language is more difficult to read on Zoom vs. in person, it is important to be extra intentional with feeling the energy and emotions in the room. As the leader of a virtual meeting, it is crucial that your group knows that they are safe, seen and understood,” says Fillion.

Reading a crowd can be challenging in person, so it requires extra focus remotely. Are people making eye contact? Are they asking questions? Is there an elephant in the room? Use your intuition to navigate the dynamics of your virtual meeting and adapt accordingly. Active listening is also key, and you want to be mindful of accidental interruptions.

It’s also important to note that different people are affected by the pandemic in different ways. Being extra sensitive to what’s going on in the world and how that could be playing out in the lives of your teammates can also help you tune into the mood and energy of the group.

3. Get tech housekeeping out of the way

You’d think that over a year into the pandemic, we’d get Zoom tech difficulties out of the way. But, unfortunately, little technical glitches are still ruining remote meetings on a daily basis everywhere in America. Don’t underestimate the capacity of apps for crashing when you need them the most.

To avoid unexpected technical challenges that will immediately put a damper on leading an EQ-powered Zoom meeting, make sure you make the process as user-friendly as possible for everyone involved. And don’t make any assumptions about the level of knowledge of participants.

“To avoid technical challenges, it’s important to make the process of joining the Zoom meeting as simple as possible. I recommend for the meeting leader to share a quick tutorial or step-by-step instructions to the members of the meeting,” says Fillion.

Adopt some quick and simple best practices to make sure everyone — even the most technologically-averse coworkers who perhaps have been staying quiet about their anxieties — joins the meeting in a low-stress way.

“It’s effective to have the Zoom link in a Google calendar invite and a reminder of the event with the Zoom link included five minutes prior to the call.”