Reading the online Room

“I miss it to look around the room and immediately see what someone thinks of a proposal from their posture. I now only develop our plans in groups of a maximum of four people, because then I can clearly  see everyone’s reaction. Very efficient.” a manager said regretfully.

If the approach of the core team is in line with what a larger group thinks and does, your chance of success is great. But how can you know what is important to the larger group during online meetings?

The tricks are to listen carefully, schedule times to read the room, ask people what they think and get a technical co-host.

In this episode of Brainy Bunch TV you will learn more about this.

Listening for innovation

With video calling, your ears are your great friends to read the room. The screens are small and the number of participants is often too large to clearly see who has a different opinion. Instead of looking at who is suddenly leaning back, you can use your ears to hear if someone is saying something unexpected.

Brainy Bunch recently held a meeting in which the client wanted to know what was going on among HR professionals in terms of retaining staff for care. They listened with an open mind and were looking for cues that invalidated their previously devised course. So they listened to what the participants actually said and wrote in the chat. If this deviated from what they already knew, they explored the new thoughts and found room for innovation.


Schedule the times when you observe your audience

To a limited extent you can read what is happening in the room by looking. Be aware of the times when you as chair have time to observe the postures of your participants.

Have people finished writing when they have “one minute” to answer a question? Do they have red faces and big laughs when they get back to the main room from small group conversations? These are moments in a program that are very suitable for reading the online room. Also at the closing, when the group determines logical follow-up actions, there is a good time to observe carefully and enjoy the group’s focus.

If you notice that the postures are different than expected, you can ask what is going on. There is always time for an explanation or an energizer.


Thermometer and weather forecast

You can of course just ask the group how they are in the game. If you want to know what they think of a proposal, you can, for example, share a thermometer on your screen and ask them to place a stamp with a keyword via the annotate function of Zoom. Then you can have a conversation about it.

During a session where Brainy Bunch provided the tech hosting, the chairman used the working method the weather forecast. The participants were asked to share how they were doing after a short conversation in pairs in the chat. “Bright blue and sunny” if it went well. It provided a quick insight into what was going on in the team.


Create time to read the room

Actual listening, observing facial expressions, following the chat to some extent and empathizing with someone else’s point of view require your attention as the person responsible for the content. If you also need to take care of the technical processes in the background, then you have little room for this.

For meetings where something is at stake, you can therefore ask someone else for the technical support and / or the tech hosting (organize breakout rooms, share screens, place assignments in the chat). This allows you to read the room yourself. Brainy Bunch can provide co-pilots, if needed.


Being together

Reading the audience is not only about the positive impact of quickly exploring resistance. It is also about knowing that you are part of a larger social whole. This is important to have energy for follow-up. The amazing thing is that at online meetings you can also achieve a group feeling, where you as a moderator or responsible person have your place. 

We can take care of your online workshops. Brainy Bunch has a team of experienced facilitators, technical support experts, speaker coaches and interpreters. Please, contact us for a chat about the possibilities. 

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Jobien Hekking

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