What comes to your mind when you see a bunch of meeting invites in your inbox?
BOR-ing. Snorefest. But what if we told you how to make virtual meetings fun?
There’s no escaping meetings, and we have all been in at least one at some point in our careers. Depending on your seniority in the firm, you’d even have been in back-to-back meetings that just never seem to end. Admit it, you’ve sat in a meeting, thinking that this discussion could very well have been summed up in an email!
Now that most of us are remote and distributed, virtual meetings are necessary for contextual conversations. But this needn’t mean that one or two members drone on while the remaining attendees sit passively or slump into a stupor. With the right virtual group games, workers can stay sharp, attentive and have some fun while doing it!
In this post, we’ll go into how to make online meetings more engaging so that everyone looks forward to the next discussion. Onward!
Easy team building activities for remote employees
The main purpose of digital team building activities is to help coworkers and managers connect with each other. It demonstrates that work can be challenging, interesting, and fun all at once if you cultivate the right mindset before rolling up your sleeves. Team building activities for conference calls improve existing team dynamics by enabling employees to put aside any personal differences. Put simply, it encourages conversation, builds rapport, and lets employees collaborate to come up with solutions to a challenge. Here are a few team building activities that answer the question of how to make virtual meetings fun!
1.1 Jungle Jumble
I like to call this one a jungle jumble for two reasons. One, my mum used to tell me my room resembles a jungle whenever I couldn’t find something. And two, I like wordplay! But in all seriousness, this game is about spotting the differences. It lets you know how observant the team is.
Everyone’s camera should be turned on for this. The rules are simple. Everyone gets thirty seconds to visually take in each other’s room or workstation. Next, switch off your camera and move one item around the room to another location. It can be a book, charger or whiteboard. Make sure that the item you’re moving is within sight of the camera. You can set a time limit of a few minutes to find a new location before turning your camera back on. Whoever is quickest in guessing the item moved and points out where it is wins! Bonus points if they can guess most of their coworker’s rearranged items.
1.2 Word of the day
Want to know how to make virtual meetings fun and get people to pay attention to what you’re saying? Announce at the start of a meeting that you’ll be slipping in an unusual word into the conversation. The participants have to guess what that word is, and where you used it. You can opt to give them a hint. If they guess right, they have to exclaim, ‘word of the day!’ it can be something as silly as ‘Hobbit’ or ‘Ducati’ or anything else.
1.3 Trivia hour
How well do you think you know your coworker? Find out in trivia hour! Digital team building activities aren’t complete without a quiz designed to help your coworkers discover something about the people they interact with. You can create the trivia questions from employee records, social media profiles such as their Twitter account and conversations you’ve had with them in the past. They would have mentioned a favorite band’s concert they went to, or their talent in arts, music and creativity. You can upload the quiz link while on the call and encourage attendees to respond before ending the meeting. You can share answers in the next meeting or upload the results in a group chat to see who got most of the answers, and therefore aced the quiz!
1.4 100 Point Puzzle
I discovered the 100 Point Challenge’s online team building game a few months back when I interviewed Dan Paech, the founder. The team and I separated into two teams and played it online on Zoom. We had to work through riddles to answer the final question, and had lots of fun in the process! While neither team got the final answer right, I would highly recommend the experience because we got pretty competitive, but found that we worked best when we worked together!
1.5 Giftbox meets
Who says you can only exchange gifts if the office is playing Secret Santa? You can always organize a gift swap and set aside an unboxing meeting just to have everyone open it up once they all receive their gifts! Set aside a budget, pick chits and get your coworkers to send a thoughtful item to the person they pick. The only difference is, you’re doing this on camera and can virtually show appreciation! You can even record the session and upload it on the group channel or on the company’s YouTube channel to increase viewership and subscribers!
1.6 Social potluck
You can recreate the lunch hour vibes online through a potluck special. Have everyone prepare a dish. Or if someone you now is the type to burn down the kitchen while making an aioli, let them order in! The important thing is that people catch up informally. Encourage coworkers to swap recipes for the next potluck and have someone else from the same team try making it!
Want to start small before going big? You can’t go wrong with a Pictionary game (or will you?). Play it the same way you would in-office. Pair people off, use an IPad slate, large book or whiteboard and put your artistic skills to good use! The moderator gives out ideas on private chats and the team has to draw it out for the other team to guess. Whichever team gets the maximum number of guesses right wins!
1.8 Karaoke or talent night
Host a karaoke bar or a talent night every few months. Ask around and find out who amongst the team has a great singing voice, plays an instrument, models in their spare time or can put together a great Zumba flash mob! Give the team a heads up as to when you’ll be conducting this so that it leaves them with sufficient time for rehearsals. You can delegate the coordination efforts to the team to deliver a performance to remember! A team that lets their hair down every once in a while can stay productive and engaged at work!
1.9 Giphster Hipster
Who rules in the memes department at work? Here’s their chance to win with the funniest, most relatable remote work memes! As an inside joke, everyone on the team can change their profile picture or status to reflect this meme until the next meeting!
What makes virtual group games fun is that there’s something to look forward to during and after playing. You can make things even more interesting with some creative incentivizing. For example, the winner gets a wall of fame listing out how many meetings they’ve aced, or a courier courtesy of their department. It can be a care hamper or a gift card sent via email.
When all is said and done, a meeting still needs to meet its purpose, and communicate goals. In the next section, we’ll go into remote meeting best practices.
2. Remote Meeting Best Practices
According to a study by the Technical University of Denmark (TUD), attention spans have shortened over the last two decades due to the abundance of information before us. In fact, it has dropped from the average of 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 in 2015. Bearing this in mind, remote meeting best practices center around conveying important updates, progress made, benchmarks set and targets met during that window where everyone’s sharp. Here are a few tips to make your discussions go smoothly;
2.1 Set the purpose
Before scheduling any meeting, it’s crucial to set the purpose and tone. This step helps you separate meaningful and priority work from busywork. Take time to formulate talking points so that the meeting can stay on topic. Meetings are intended to be concise, informative and relevant to the people in attendance. Factor in sufficient time to communicate expectations and clarify assignments, outcomes and accountability.
2.2 Time the meeting
You can set a timer before commencing in order to observe how long your meetings tend to go on for. It can help you see if everyone gets a fair turn at participating and if there have been places where anybody went off on a tangent. Over time and with frequent meetings, you’ll get better at confining the meeting to the agenda.
2.3 Turn the camera on
When and where possible, ask everyone to keep their cameras on till at least the main agenda is hashed out. It’s a different matter if they’re using hotspots or in a location where the internet is unstable. But having a camera on can ensure that everyone is in the same room and are paying attention to what is said, because they would be more conscious of the fact that their facial expressions can be closely observed by the others. This helps you know if some or all are getting restless or distracted, at which point you can step in to call for a break and resume the discussion later. Or, to allow people who have already had their say to drop off and get back to work.
2.4 Appoint a facilitator
A facilitator is someone who knows how to make virtual meetings fun. He, or she presides over meetings and coordinates timings and availability. This person may or may not initiate the actual discussion, but will be expected to know what it is about, and to ensure everyone crucial for it makes an appearance at the scheduled hour.
2.5 Set housekeeping rules
Housekeeping rules help maintain decorum while the discussion is underway. It includes allowing everyone to have their say. The rules prevent anyone from speaking out of turn, or from hijacking the discussion. It allows colleagues to raise questions or objections where relevant. It also ensures that disagreements are kept respectful and that the discussion does not escalate into a workplace conflict.
2.6 Conclude with recognition
Meetings are the perfect way to give performance-based praise. End the meeting with updates on how the business is doing, and who all did well consistently. Expressing your appreciation to meeting delegates builds loyalty and employee goodwill, factors that are essential to an employee remaining engaged long-term.
3. How do you make a virtual meeting more fun?
Virtual meetings can be fun provided you balance work and play. The point of a meeting is to give and receive updates. Avoid impromptu meetings as much as possible. It catches people unawares and takes up time that could go into the worker getting on with their actual tasks.
A scheduled remote meeting, on the other hand, ensures the attendees are informed of this in advance and can come prepared with their own views and inputs. And above all, don’t make every meeting you schedule about work.
So how to make virtual meetings fun? By creating virtual group games and participating in digital team activities every once in a while!