How to Turn Virtual Team Karaoke into the Best Party Ever

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Remote work is here to stay, and it has so far evoked mixed reactions. Getting used to online interactions is hard, particularly for employees who were used to conferring with their colleagues and managers in a collocated office. One way to make interaction something virtual workers can look forward to is to host a virtual team karaoke hour!

The team may not be able to sing at their favorite karaoke haunt in-person, but with some prep, they can unleash their singing potential on a Zoom call!

Let’s see what can make virtual team karaoke fun.

1. What are Virtual Karaoke bars?

A virtual karaoke is an online session conducted on platforms with recording capabilities and enhanced audio and video clarity. Medical science has long since revealed that singing releases endorphins, making it a natural antidepressant.

If you’ve been feeling low when working from home, know that it’s not a coincidence. Remote workers have reported experiencing work-from-home blues stemming from isolation and confinement. In 2017, 41% of remote workers reported higher stress levels. Jamming online with the team gives you something to bond over with while enjoying a few smiles and laughs along the way!

2. How to do Virtual Karaoke on ZOOM?

Zoom is a great platform to get the group together on video. It’s easy to get used to over other software and lets you see upto 50 participants on the screen through its gallery view. The steps to conduct a virtual karaoke depends on who’s hosting it, where, and who all will be involved.

2.1 Plan it out ahead

The first thing is to plan the session well enough in advance so that everyone is informed and duly reminded to join in. It would be ideal if everyone is game, but it’s also ok if everyone can’t or won’t join in. The reason for their reluctance could be anything, which has to be respected. Planning ahead does give you one advantage though; to encourage them to change their mind.

If you’re the host, you’ll need to set up a meeting on Zoom after downloading it on your laptop/ desktop. The others will need a stable internet connection on their device for the best results. You can parallely create a room on Watch2Gether which is an online meeting room. The team can watch synced content on it or catch song lyrics via Youtube or Vimeo. When you plan ahead you need to ask yourself how you’ll be conducting this. Will you

  1. Select the songs beforehand, ask the participants for suggestions or find them together during the session?
  2. Want to choose an order for the performers or playlist? If yes, you can appoint a KJ (karaoke DJ) to keep track of songs as they begin and end.
  3. Run a test to ensure that everyone can access the same platform?
  4. Be able to keep the energy high during the session or re-engage when the enthusiasm is ebbing?
  5. Have a backup plan in case no one volunteers to sing?

2.2 Select a list of songs

Include and involve the team as a whole in selecting songs. While you can also look up popular karaoke suggestions online, it’s possible that everyone would not have heard of the songs you find and would therefore not know how it goes. Or, they’d need the lyrics because they wouldn’t know all the words by heart. Whosoever’s suggestion makes it to the playlist also has the responsibility to find and post its lyrics and video, if there’s one. Creating the playlist together can curate tracks that everyone is aware of, and it encourages people to learn a new song for their colleague’s sake!

If you’re out of ideas, you can try luckyvoice. It is a platform for online karaoke that features 9000+ songs in their library. You’ll need to launch the app or web player on your phone, depending on whether you’re an Android or IoS user. They’ve helpfully given instruction for how to use the platform which are as follows;

  1. Log in to the online player to chose your first song.
  2. Mute the phone and turn down the volume manually.
  3. Launch Zoom on the laptop and set up a meeting.
  4. Invite the others after you join in yourself.
  5. Make sure everyone is muted initially (including yourself).
  6. On the iPhone, you’ll be prompted to start broadcast on Zoom.
  7. Run a test by playing the first song on your phone. If it’s coming through clearly with no feedback, then you’re all set!

2.3 Obtain lyrics

Now that you have your songs list, the next step is to get its lyrics. They should be easily available as subtitles on a video or on a separate screen to read from during the sing-a-long. Depending on your group’s preferences, either have songs in a common language (such as English), or in people’s native languages provided the lyrics are easy to obtain. Here are some tips to help you make your selections;

  1. Select a song most participants know all or most of the lyrics to.
  2. Stick to an easy vocal range that doesn’t create a strain on the singers.
  3. Avoid melancholic or obscene songs.
  4. If it’s a duet or a song that uses different voices, make sure that everyone’s paying attention to the cues on-screen.

If you’re up for some suggestions, here’re some tracks that team Sorry,I was On Mute, loves!

  1. Fascinating New Thing, Semisonic
  2. Shake it Off, Taylor Swift
  3. I Want it That Way, Backstreet Boys
  4. I’ll be there for you, the Rembrandts.
  5. They don’t care about us, Michael Jackson.

With the cast of F.R.I.E.N.D.S reconvening on air on May 27th after nearly 17 years, I couldn’t help humming the song and thought of including it here. It’s a plus that it’s easy to sing, too!

2.4 Run a mic test before starting

The biggest barrier to karaoke is faulty audio. If you’re hosting virtual team karaoke by yourself, be sure that everyone’s microphone and audio settings are correctly configured, up and running. If you’re going with Kabloom, their experts will get the sound and tech stuff sorted, leaving you free to do the actual singing. They’ll set up the Zoom links, create multi-room parties so you can run several karaoke rooms in parallel and engage with your employees to help them loosen up.

2.5 Record the session

Recording the session helps you make great memories. You can return to it and replay the recording when you just want to see how much fun everyone had.

2.6 Use a tipping jar (for the best singers)

While optional, it’s nice to leave a token of appreciation (like a tip) for those singers who sang well. It can also encourage those who shied away from singing or only moved their lips soundlessly to actually sing!

3. How to do Virtual Karaoke on Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and Other Platforms?

Besides Zoom, you can also set up virtual team karaoke on platforms such as Microsoft teams by

  1. Having the participants send song suggestions to the host.
  2. Having the host share screens and signalling the start of the songs.
  3. Ensuring everyone gets a fair shot at the vocals.

If you’re using Watch2Gether, make sure everyone has access to the link. Once attendees enter a room, they should update the name next to their icon. The room keeps track as and when this is done.

4. Virtual Team Karaoke Etiquettes to Follow

Given how annoying background noises and feedback is, the karaoke experience will be more memorable if everyone follows the same rules, which are

  1. Have everyone do vocal warm-ups. This can either be a group exercise or individually depending on their choices.
  2. Remind everyone to be seated in a place where they’re unlikely to be disturbed or interrupted.
  3. Encourage everyone to hydrate and keep warm water nearby.
  4. Mute everyone or remind everyone who is not singing to mute themselves.
  5. Turn down your volume control before increasing it.
  6. Create a theme (such as everyone wearing the same colour, or dressing up as a specific singing sensation) to add the fun element to your karaoke!
  7. Keep your video on if your connection is stable enough to support both audio and video.
  8. Give encouragement to first-timers.
  9. Applaud at the end of a number.
  10. Leave time for a post-session discussion.

5. Benefits of hosting virtual team karaoke

1. Helps people overcome inhibitions

Singing as part of a group can be an extreme-anxiety inducing situation for some people, which is why you need to handle it with sensitivity. Constant encouragement goes a long way in helping even the shiest of your employees shed their inhibitions. Virtual team karaoke is about bringing people together so there’s no bar or score for your singing. As the host, it’s your responsibility to make group involvement the focus and to keep the energy going!

2. Relieves work stress

Who would have thought that singing the blues would actually beat the blues? Virtual karaoke can help remote employees de-stress and unwind. If you push it towards the end of the week, it can also be a great way for everyone to wrap up.

3. Safer for drunken singing

If you thought that you can get drunk only at a bar, think again!If you and everyone on the team is up for it, you can have a boozy version of virtual team karaoke by having everyone down a shot after a song ends. Although, you may want to stick to a safe limit for the number of songs you sing in a session. We don’t want anyone slurring their words or slumping into semiconsciousness by the time they get to the final song!

Aakash Gupta
Written by
Aakash Gupta

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