Meetings Pro Tip: Try a Little Nonverbal Engagement

Not everyone can talk during every virtual event you put on. One way to help rein in the potential chaos? Lean on the trusty power of the emoji.

Simply put, not everyone can leave their cameras or microphones on during every virtual event—it would lead to chaos.

But a tool you’ve probably used a few times today already could help fill the nonverbal engagement gap in inventive ways: the emoji.

What’s the Strategy?

Many major platforms, such as Zoom, include emoji integration capabilities, which allow people to react to whatever’s happening during a virtual event—offering real-time data points, whether a person is trying to raise their hand, expressing confusion about an issue being discussed, or applauding a fascinating point.

It can be a surrogate for body language, which gives in-person meetings an advantage even now.

“One thing we desperately lack in virtual or hybrid meetings is physical feedback. We can hardly see facial reactions or read body language,” wrote Juraj Holub, chief meeting designer for the event platform Slido, in an article for The Next Web. “[Emoji] can be an effective fix to this. And most video platforms support them these days.”

Why Is It Effective?

Not everyone is in a position to talk frequently at every meeting (and if they’re shy, nor may they want to). But they still might want a way to interact and offer live feedback during an event. The wide array of emotions that emoji can provide are a useful solution to the conundrum, as emoji offer a basic form of interaction without any verbal cues.

On top of that, the business world is increasingly finding uses for emoji, as TechRepublic notes.

“They allow employees to express themselves and create a pleasant, more inclusive, and welcoming work environment. Emojis also enhance messages and can offer a quick way to express support or celebrate team members’ accomplishments,” said Christina Janzer, Slack’s senior director of research, in comments to the news outlet.

What’s the Potential?

There’s no reason to limit emoji to apps and virtual platforms.

The event company Omnipress reported on its blog that it found surprising success by including emoji reaction sheets within its printed event booklets.

“This idea made it easier for attendees to give feedback, as they were already using the program booklet as an ongoing reference piece for critical event information such as how to log on, rules of virtual engagement, the program schedule, etc.,” the company noted. “Plus, we found the cost-per-piece to print a program book was much lower than many of the premium items being considered.”

(photosynthesis/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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