Demonstrate genuine curiosity – at least in the first few minutes

A common complaint these days is the tendency of virtual meeting participants to dive right into business, skipping the informal chitchat that typifies a non-virtual gathering. Make a point of spending the first three to five minutes of a call asking original questions that have nothing to do with the topic of the meeting and everything to do with your colleagues being human beings with their particular interests, issues and ideas.

The staid ‘how are you’ questions will get staid and shallow answers. Have questions ready that tap into something that’s meaningful to people and conveys ‘I am genuinely interested, and I genuinely care’. Make sure they are open questions that allow for more than a yes/no answer; for example: “what did you do this week that you loved?” or ”how are your kids coping?” or ”who has an original suggestion for a screen-free evening-for-two”

Stop for a moment to think what you would be interested to know about your colleagues or team members; honest questions backed by genuine interest are likely to be felt and responded to as such.