Looking to win at small talk at the start of your virtual meetings? Perhaps you have a large group meeting, but you are the first to join, well now what?

 

Making small talk can be a challenging task when you are not in the same room as the meeting attendees, here is how to small talk appropriately in virtual meetings:

 

1. Be creative with your physical settings

Many online meeting platforms allow the option to change your background from a variety of options, this includes a range of a digital office to a city bridge.  You can also customize and create your background. The type of items shown in the background have a high probability of being noticed which can result in small talk.

 

Additionally, you can use no digital background at all and have your real physical setting, the meeting attendees may recognize a book on your bookshelf they have read or ask about a painting on a wall behind you.

 

A final tip with being creative with your physical settings is to be mindful of what you have displayed. Ensure the items in the camera angle are work appropriate and portray an image you are looking to have in a professional setting.

2. Recognize online meeting fatigue

It is common to find video calls draining, in this setting all you have to look at is a video camera. To help offset some of this online meeting fatigue, small talk and a more personable approach to opening a meeting can help.

 

Start a meeting with a check-in or icebreaker to help connect participants. The beauty of icebreakers is the conversation that grows off of the thoughts of others. Similarities can develop which help with team building and team development.

 

3. All silence does not equal awkwardness

Empty silence is awkward, and it is common human instinct to want to fill the lack of conversation with words. Sometimes silences are present, simply because people are thinking or processing the question.

 

Here are some small talk conversation examples:

  • Weather
  • Family activities (how is the family, what are your family plans for the weekend etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • Location

 

With all the tips provided above, be aware of what small talk is and why it is important! It helps establish relationships, build rapport and trust. Knowing how to properly engage in small talk helps ease the flow from opening conversation into the objective of the meeting.