Business as usual at meetings – I think not!

December 21st, 2020

briars group jon hammond

Virtual Meeting Expert Jon Hammond offers Six Tips to Online Meeting Success

I hope you agree, we are all in a new world when it comes to business meetings.

The leadership challenge of how to influencing/persuade teams that are likely to be remote has taken on a new dimension.

Some international companies have been doing video conferencing for years, so the technology is not new, however in the pre Covid-19 days, online connection could be supplemented by face to face meetings or frequent conferences, where we could get to know colleagues in a social environment as well as getting the opportunity to have in depth conversations.

This is the element of virtual connecting that is troubling my clients around the world.

I spoke to a leader earlier this week who has several members of their team that they have never met face to face. The whole process from interview to appointment has all been online.

Just think what it must be like for someone new into the world of work, this could be a daunting prospect.

From the ‘what does the boss really think of me’ question when we would normally subconsciously read their body language to give us reassurance, to the simple need for human contact and encouragement which can mean huge amount to many junior members.

Way before the pandemic, internal communication has been recognised as one of the biggest challenges to get right.

The old school mantra of ‘tell em, tell em, and tell em again’ is both outdated and from an era of dinosaur management that wondered why they did not get the best out of their teams.

If you look at the great leaders of the past decade, they all understand the importance of being trusted, respected and in many cases, liked as a leader that appreciates those around them.

As Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart said:

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

So how, in these days of remote communication and unseen audiences, can we create great connection online.


Here are my six simple tips:

  1. Spend time before any connection thinking about your team’s individual current situation. Perhaps they are going stir crazy with a young family all cooped up in a lockdown apartment (especially across Europe) with no access to space and fresh air. Or they might have limited resources when it comes to cameras, microphones or lights and don’t want to look bad in front of the boss. How many households are struggling to get strong Wi-Fi with everybody and his dog online at the same time?
  2. You should also be thinking about what emotional state are they in. Mental Health has become a (if not THE) major concern for many organisations. Another leader I spoke to recently talked about the increasing number of people away from his business with stress – as the pandemic continues, I don’t see this number decreasing.
  3. By thinking about both their physical situation as well as their emotional situation we can start to understand how they will be feeling even before the virtual meeting starts. And when we connect, rather than head into the business of the day, take time to check how people are. Not just a cursory ‘are you all ok? – let’s get going’ but really mean it. How would you treat them if they were your son or daughter? Would the care and compassion level be higher?
  4. Plan your online meeting in a different way. If you spend most of your day on Zoom or Teams, it is inevitable that your brain will get tired quickly, but that’s the same for every member of your audience. My fourth tip is to create light and shade in your content. Be interactive with polls or other technology that shakes things up and adds fun. Don’t forget how important regular breaks can be to give their minds and eyes a rest. Another of my clients sends cookies and sweets out to her team before a meeting ready for their newly named ‘Power Breaks’.
  5. Always be conscious of the different styles of information that people will grasp best. Some will be visual – great pictures tell a thousand words, some will be aural – monotonous delivery will not work here, some will prefer a kinaesthetic style (i.e. touchy-feely) Is there a way we can encourage them to get more physically involved by better advance planning.

And one of the key elements of persuasion is to use numerical evidence as social proof. Simplify your messages and underpin them with uncomplicated numbers and you are onto a winner.

  1. Show you care – Follow up offline

Little demonstrations to show you care can go a long way to strengthen your team and their respect for you. One of my clients sent out mugs with big ‘Thank-You’ on them and was bowled over by the positive response.

We are all in this challenging time together and now is the opportunity for great leaders to strengthen a progressive and positive reputation.

It’s your choice…


Jon Hammond DL is a virtual coach with an impressive track record as a reputation saver and reputation builder. He has spent many years in TV and Radio relating to people through a lens and engaging with unseen audiences, and now shares many tips tricks and techniques to use in the virtual and real world to re-enforce leadership reputation

He helps businesses around the world with communication strategies, creating remote studios, effective message delivery and teaching leaders to have presence and to reach their full potential.

Contact him at or

He is also the host of the #REPUTATION PODCAST available on all good podcast apps

Kate Jolly

Kate co-founded Briars in 1991 with Andrew Brierley. She specialised in tax law and today continues to advise clients on international operations, particularly land, expand and exit! In her spare time Kate is a Past Master of the City of London Guild of Entrepreneurs and a Director of CCARHT (Cambridge Centre for Applied Research into Human Trafficking).