Unfortunately, you cannot share a box of donuts via WebEx, and energy is not as contagious on Zoom as in physical conference rooms. Luckily, there are several ways to enliven your remote team and make virtual meetings fun.
Not only do we have a blast during remote staff meetings here at Museum Hack and our sister brand TeamBuilding, but we also design engaging virtual events that bring elements of fun and togetherness to online offices of every size.
Here are six simple methods to make remote meetings fun.
Method #1: Incorporate virtual team building
Virtual team building activities and games are a great way to encourage fun and a participation in meetings. For example, you could play a game of “Never Have I Ever” or online team building bingo. These games tend to encourage teamwork, collaboration and communication, which all will help raise the fun factor for your meeting.
Check out our list of virtual team building activities.
Method #2: Tease your wow factor
By announcing activities prior to the meeting, you build anticipation and allow your attendees time to prepare. Not everyone feels comfortable composing songs or spilling secrets on the spot. Some participants prefer warning to think up answers in advance.
Plus, giving your employee notice of the agenda enables further creativity. For instance, if you plan to host a boy wizard trivia quiz in honor of Halloween, then your teammates can create custom Zoom backgrounds of wizarding schools or enchanted dungeons, and can dress up as favorite characters.
If you tell attendees that teams will film a short movie, then group members can gather extravagant props in preparation. Or, if you prefer to keep the exercise a surprise, then you can build anticipation and suspense for your reveal. Either way, knowing the plan ahead of time gives employees something to look forward to.
Method #3: Let the people choose
Most folks have more fun when allowed to choose a pastime. By giving your team autonomy over the activity, you guarantee majority appeal and more actively involve employees in the team building process. In turn, you ensure more employee involvement and engagement. Teammates are more likely to engage in a game they chose than one that was sprung upon them.
Too many choices can draw out the decision-making process and overwhelm the average person, so for best results you should offer your teams a selection of three to five options and arrange a vote. You can ask teammates to rank activity preferences in your meeting invitation email, or you can cast the vote using the polling feature during your video call. Feel free to use runners-up as options for future meetings, and communicate that employees can suggest other options to you between meetings.
Method #4: Play games throughout the meeting
Instead of bookending the meeting with icebreakers and concluding activities, you can play a game throughout to keep everyone attentive. Here are a few examples of games you can play with remote colleagues during meetings:
Treasure hunt: Just like Disney world hides Mickey Mouse shapes throughout the parks for savvy fans to find, you can choose a symbol to slip into your meetings so that your employees’ eyes don’t wander. Basic objects like stars, cars, or unicorns work well as treasures, as do pop culture icons like Iron Man or the Simpsons. You can sneak pictures into PowerPoint slides, flash a character on the side of a mug, drop an emoji into the chat; anything goes! At the end of the meeting, ask teammates to tell you how many times the symbol appeared, and award the winners!
Copycat: Copycat is a silent game that relies on reading body language. Before the meeting starts, decide on a gesture such as saluting, finger glasses, jazz hands, tapping your nose, or playing air guitar. Then, elect one group member as leader by sending a secret direct message. At any random point during the meeting, the leader can initiate the action. The other teammates must notice and copy. The last teammate to mimic the leader wisn negative points.
Buzzwords: At the start of the meeting, every attendee will choose a buzzword off of the list. You will assign a counteraction to every buzzword, for instance five jumping jacks or a dinosaur roar. Every time anybody says the chosen buzzword, the correct participant must respond with the counteraction. If the teammate does not comply, then any other attendee can call the player out and assign a random consequence.
You can play these games over the course of several meetings if you would like. Ongoing play can keep employees engaged and attentive. Feel free to concoct even more games to keep your employees on their toes!
Method #5: Keep meetings short and on-task
You could design the most entertaining online activity any remote employee has ever seen, but if you run out of time, your plans will be for nothing. One of the most often overlooked methods of having fun during meetings is to keep meetings short and on-task. You do not want to have to rush through your fun exercise, nor do you want your employees to glaze over by the time the entertainment portion arrives. The Harvard Business Review suggests that 30 minutes is an ideal length for a meeting. Meetings that drag out longer than 45 minutes struggle to hold attendee’s attention, and meetings that involve more than eight people tend to experience a sharp decline in productivity. You should set a meeting agenda, allot a time to each topic, and watch the clock to remain inside those parameters. Progressing promptly through the business segment of your meeting preserves employee energy for the fun participation portion.
Method #6: Utilize interactive features
Using a web conference platform only for speaking on video is a lot like using a smartphone only for telephone calls. Video meeting software like Zoom and WebEx offer many interactive features you can use to enhance your meeting experience, and neglecting these features would be a real shame.
For instance, you could use the reactions feature to play a Zoom version of rock, paper, scissors, and could take advantage of Zoom’s customizable backgrounds to add a sense of whimsy and playfulness to your meeting. The team can use the whiteboard feature to play games like tic-tac-toe or Pictionary, or doodle collectively. You could use the chat to host a quiz or encourage team banter. The polling feature can facilitate trivia or team votes, or perhaps an impromptu game of Would You Rather. Breakout rooms allow for more intimate conversations, which are ideal for icebreakers amid larger teams.
Method #7: Incorporate real-world objects
Though your computer screen may be 2-D, you can incorporate 3-D objects to add tactile elements to your meetings. For instance, you could ask teammates to grab a household object like a book or a whisk for a scavenger hunt, can send cocktail kits so that attendees can mix drinks during virtual happy hours, or can schedule a pet-show and tell with puppy belly rubs and kitty ear scratches galore. Teammates can either grab random items from around the house, or you can mail special goodies and kits in preparation for your meeting activity. Occupying your employees’ hands eliminates jitters and awkwardness and activates the sense of touch, more thoroughly engaging your audience in the activity.
Method #8: Include icebreaker questions
Icebreaker questions are simple prompts you can use to make virtual meetings more fun. For example, you might ask “what is your name, role and favorite weird salad ingredient?” These icebreakers provide opportunities for attendees to share more about themselves, and to build connections and relationships.
Here is a the most popular list of icebreaker questions online.
Whether your virtual meeting lasts ten minutes or two hours, you can use these methods to maximize attention, drive participation, and sprinkle fun into your routine. The nature of virtual work means teammates encounter fewer options for camaraderie and entertainment, but planning amusing and exciting elements for your next meeting can boost your group’s mood and encourage team bonding.