How to wrap up remote meetings like IRL
Think back to workshops in person. Are there any important aspects of these gatherings IRL that are still missing in remote ones? One seemingly subtle but vital element that’s often overlooked in remote workshops is “cleanup time”, i.e. the casual conversation that comes at the close of the meeting. This might seem trivial, but creating intentional space for connection post-workshop does wonders for group dynamics and building relationships.
Picture this: you are attending an in-person workshop. The group work session is coming to an end. The facilitator begins a debrief to review what was discussed. He then addresses post-meeting next steps and opens the floor up to questions from the group, all burning questions are welcomed. The conversation naturally transitions to mingling amongst attendees as people gather their things to leave. People may exchange business cards or follow-up on new acquaintances made. Perhaps someone mentions a happy hour around the corner that piques the interest of many. Post-meeting conversations can lead to lasting connections, and connections are everything.
In the virtual landscape, it’s easy to just say, “ok done” at the end of a workshop. This is a missed opportunity. Just like I use the pack-up time after an IRL workshop to chat with attendees, I always schedule in time to stick around for informal questions or just hang out virtually. Cleanup time is something that happens nearly effortlessly when we’re together in person. We may not fully realize it as it’s happening, but casual conversation is essential to build connections and relationships with others. It “humanizes” the work experience, and it’s necessary to include in the virtual landscape because people have become accustomed to it IRL.
Create Cleanup Time
During my time running virtual meetings these past few months, I’ve heard from many people how they miss the human connection of in-person meetings. Cleanup time was a large part of that. People enjoyed it IRL, and they miss it. We shouldn’t deprive them of it. Cleanup time is often the cherry on top of the work–let’s bring it to virtual interactions!
- Don’t plan on running to something else directly after the workshop. Schedule time to stick around after for informal questions or just to “hang out.”
- As you wrap up the workshop, casually tell attendees that you’re staying on the call for questions and/or conversation and they’re welcome to join you. Note: There’s no need to put cleanup time on the official agenda for attendees to see. It was never part of the “time commitment” for a live event, but people still stayed to mingle.
- Don’t overthink it. Just wrap up the session, and stick around. See what happens.
A bonus of incorporating cleanup time in virtual workshops is that it’s really fun to go off-script. People open up and you can learn things you didn’t expect. I’ve found that people are more likely to ask you that crazy nagging question that they were afraid to ask during the “real session”. You can find out what’s really on people’s minds, the juicy stuff.
Pro tip: if you’re running a multi-day workshop you can incorporate cleanup time at the end of the second day. It can be part of the formative assessment, but it’s informal.
The takeaway: people love time to chat and hang out after workshops, so let’s provide it virtually.
Suggestions to Take Cleanup Time to the Next Level
We’ve been known to turn post-meeting chats into impromptu happy hours, gif dance parties, and/or an opportunity to play a game. Put the following in your back pocket for some cleanup time fun:
- Snagit: screen capture and recording software, perfect for creating gifs
- JQBX: team juke box that allows everyone to play and listen to music in sync for the optimum dance party
- Zoom Virtual Backgrounds: change your scenery and invite others to do the same for a fun twist on conversation–find out why everyone chose the background that they did.
- Energizer and icebreaker games: Session Labs has a great collection of virtual-friendly games to tee up, from wordplay to rock paper scissor tournaments to improv games.
- Ask the bartender: cleanup time might turn into cocktail hour, in which case it can be fun to tell everyone to craft their favorite drink and share the recipe with the group.
Want to learn more about virtual facilitation?
Voltage Control offers virtual services including Virtual Facilitation, Virtual Transitions, and Virtual Meeting Design. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation.