Guest Post by Lois Kirkpatrick, MBA
Awkward silences. Unfortunately, they’re a fact of life on Zoom (or whatever platform you use for virtual business meetings). Inevitably, a key participant is late to the meeting or is having technical difficulties, and an awkward silence takes over the room.
Here’s where you can step up and be a hero by keeping the energy in the meeting upbeat and the participants engaged. Have a stockpile of open-ended questions that most people can relate to. When an awkward silence threatens, you can pull out an interesting question, such as:
- Which emoji do you use the most?
- Anybody have pets? Tell us a cool thing about yours.
- What’s your favorite thing to wear on your feet during a virtual meeting?
- If you had the time and money, what would you love to collect?
- What’s one thing on your bucket list?
The idea is to ask a question that’s positive and easy to answer. Bonus points if it results in answers that make people laugh — or at least smile. The goal is to keep participants interested long enough for the meeting to get back on track, instead of having them mentally leave the meeting by checking their phones.
Being able to keep participants engaged is even more important if you’re meeting with a current or potential client. Awkward silences can put a damper on the relationship you want to build. Being able to fill awkward silences with fun conversations can help strengthen the connection between you and your clients. In a world where too many meetings are boring or draining, being the person who can keep a virtual meeting lively can make you seem like a hero.
And that’s good for business.
About the Author
Lois Kirkpatrick has worked on successful marketing campaigns for a variety of products and services, from mattresses and degree programs to fundraisers and community events.