Pay your bills, shop on Amazon, do your nails, maybe even get caught up on a few work emails; it is amazing how much you can get done in an unengaging virtual meeting. All joking aside, with employees increasingly spread across town, the country and even the world; we are spending more and more time in virtual meetings. Instead of having your people tune out, use a little fun to help them tune in, and maybe build a relationship and more productive team culture in the process.
Before I share a few ideas, I want to first acknowledge the underlying problem with both in-person and virtual meetings (which I will discuss in more detail in a later email): In general, they are a waste of time. Not because the meeting content/topic is unimportant, but often times, the organizers and attendees have not invested the time and attention needed to make them valuable.
In general, before each meeting, organizers and attendees should know the following:
Why we are meeting (Inform, Align, or Discuss)
What is my role in this meeting? (Why was I invited and what is needed from me?)
What is the desired outcome of the meeting and how will we achieve it? (The agenda)
More on the above in a future message… let’s get to the fun!
Here are some simple activities to spice up and bring a little fun back to your video or phone meetings.
It is hard to have a video call go without someone’s screen freezing in an awkward position. Turn this sad reality into a game by trying to fool each other into thinking you’re frozen. Stop mid-sentence in an awkward position and hold it. If someone says “Looks like John is frozen” - that is a point for you! Did your coworker’s screen freeze in an awkward position… take a screen capture or a photo and keep a collection of Best Awkward Freezes!
2. Moving Troll:
Have everyone on your team pick an object like a little troll or book they have in their office. Before each call, have people move the object to a different location within the camera’s view. See who can spot the change. Another version is to have people turn off their cameras for 30 seconds and change one thing in their office. After, ask people to guess what change was made.
3. Word of the Day:
At the start of each meeting, pick a word of the day such as “cucumber.” See who can slip the word into the conversation without others noticing. “I really think that if we cucumber the system with a little extra investment everything will work much faster.” If you catch someone using the word… yell "Word of the day!"
4. Question of the Day:
What are the two double-landlocked countries in the world? (Countries that don’t touch an ocean, and the countries that border them don’t touch an ocean as well.) Start each call with a trivia question. Have everyone draft their answer in the Chat function and then all hit send at the same time! Give a prize to the winner! Want to use this activity for more than just laughs? Ask questions about company updates, policies, or mission statements and more! Want to make this an ongoing process? Divide your group into teams and have them compete over time.
5. Tuned In:
Have everyone write “Tuned In” on a piece of paper. When you feel like people are not paying attention, hold the “Tuned In” sign up to your web cam. Last person to get their sign up is “it” and has to either answer a question about themselves or another challenge of your choosing! Not only will it bring attention but laughs as well!
You can also revisit previous A Welcomed Interruptionemails for other ideas to help make your meetings more effective and engaging:
Follow Up Action:
Do you have a virtual meeting?
Share this email with the people you plan to meet with and invite them to play one of the games in your next meeting.
Jump start your next phone meeting with a question. Here are a few to choose from:
- If you could click a button and one task on your to do list would be automatically completed, what would it be and why?
- What was your favorite dish as a child?
- What made you smile in the last week?
- What is one thing you learned recently that really surprised you?
- What is the most beautiful thing/place you have ever seen and why?
- What simple things give you the most joy?
- Tell me of a stranger that impacted your life?
Do your managers have employees who work remotely?
Check out my Art of Acknowledgment Program for Remote Leaders. Help your leaders develop the skills to build and maintain relationships with their people regardless of location.
I am an International and TEDx speaker specializing in employee engagement. From the Lebanese Postal Service to the United Nations, I have trained thousands of leaders around the globe in how to ensure their people feel valued everyday. You can learn more about my work here