You found our guide on how to make virtual meetings fun.
Making virtual meetings fun is a way to fight off Zoom fatigue and hold attendees’ attention. Examples include using themed Zoom backgrounds and playing online icebreaker games. The purpose of these activities is to make online meetings more productive and enjoyable and to help remote teammates build relationships.
This article includes:
- tips on how to make virtual team meetings more engaging
- tools to make virtual meetings more interactive
- fun ways to start a virtual meeting
- fun ways to end a virtual meeting
These strategies can include team building on conference calls, virtual meeting games and Zoom icebreaker activities, and fall under the categories of how to have fun at work, virtual team meeting ideas, remote employee engagement tips and building successful virtual teams.
Here is everything you need to know.
Tips on how to make virtual team meetings more engaging
Here is a list of ways to make Zoom meetings more fun.
1. Keep meetings short
Just because you paid for Zoom so that your meetings could last longer than 40 minutes, does not mean your meetings should drag on for hours.
Research finds that most workers cannot focus in meetings for longer than 45 minutes, and engagement sharply drops after the 30 minute marker.
Here are some ways to keep Zoom calls brief:
- Prepare and practice: Without a clear agenda, you may ramble or jump around, spend too much time on one subject, and stretch the meeting longer than necessary. Making an outline helps to organize the hour or half hour and prevent overtime. Practicing can help you find a good flow for the meeting.
- Do not try to cram in content: Trying to cover too many topics in one call may make the meeting feel never-ending. Plus, attendees may only retain a fraction of the information. Choose a few main focus points and shelve the rest of the touchpoints for future calls.
- Watch the clock: Pacing the meeting is important to ensure you cover all the necessary material. Sometimes you may need to spend more time than expected discussing a subject. However, if discussion drags on for non-urgent matters, then saying ” “let’s circle back to this later,” may be best.
- Collect questions before the call: If the meeting is discussion-based and has many attendees, then collecting questions pre-call can help the presentation flow faster and feel more snappy.
- Stick to a time limit: Setting a strict time limit keeps participants on topic and audiences engrossed. Plus, ending meetings on schedule signals that you value your employees’ time. If meeting end time approaches and discussion is in full swing, it may be time to pause the conversation, or give attendees the option of leaving if the discussion is non-essential.
Occasionally, a meeting may need to extend for an hour or longer. In these instances, you can offer short breaks to let employees recharge and refocus.
2. Strike a balance between talking and listening
Virtual offices are cooperative environments, which means virtual meetings should not be one-sided affairs.
Experts recommend a between presentation and discussion during virtual meetings. Ideally, you should speak no more than 70% of the meeting and allow the remainder of the time for coworkers to respond and participate. Of course, you can certainly devote more time to group discussion, however you should not spend more than two thirds of the meeting talking at your teammates.
If you wanted to lecture your team members, then you could record and send a podcast and skip the meeting altogether. When you gather teammates for a remote meeting, be sure to have some dialogue, not just monologue.
3. Add participatory elements
By far, one of the easiest ways to make virtual meetings fun is to add participatory elements. Adding interactive elements means planning activities and games that require employee participation. Participatory virtual meeting components include virtual icebreakers, online team building games, virtual team challenges, and virtual team building activities.
4. Use visual aids
Virtual meetings are a visual medium, but often leaders forgo pictures, diagrams, and outside video and limit conferences to webcam. By utilizing video conferencing tools to incorporate outside images, you can demonstrate concept ideas to the team and also encourage employees to focus on meeting content instead of shopping for smoothie machines.
How to use visual aids in virtual meetings:
- Share screen to display worksheets, videos, slideshows, programs, etc.
- Use the meeting software’s whiteboard app to collaborate
- Drop external links in the chat
- Conduct a poll to allow all participants to answer simultaneously
Of course, visual aids do not need to be strictly business. You can use pictures to liven up your virtual meetings by way of icebreaker or online team building activity. For instance, you can share teammates’ baby photos and challenge employees to identify the coworker.
5. Leave time to socialize
Virtual offices do not afford remote employees the same mingling opportunities as in-person offices, which can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection. In an effort to keep virtual meetings efficient, you may want to discuss work topics exclusively. However, denying remote employees the chance to socialize with peers can result in weaker teams and detached team members.
By giving team members time to socialize in meetings and allowing folks to carry out casual conversations, you boost employee morale and strengthen bonds between coworkers. Avoiding the temptation to structure every part of the meeting grants remote employees the opportunity to make organic connections.
As the host, you can arrive at the meeting early or linger longer and give employees access to the meeting room in order to chat with colleagues. Leaving time to socialize simulates a more traditional work environment and helps employees cope with the loneliness of working from home.
Ways to make virtual meetings more fun
Here is a list of tricks and tools for making online meetings more hands-on.
1. Virtual icebreakers
Virtual icebreakers are short activities used at the beginning of virtual meetings to “warm up” conversation and teach teammates facts about coworkers.
How to use virtual icebreakers:
- Consider your employees’ demographics, interests, personalities, and senses of humor when choosing icebreaker
- Select a quick activity or one to five questions
- Give every teammate ample time to respond
If time allows, then you can also challenge teammates to repeat information learned during the icebreaker.
2. Online team building games
Virtual team building games, also known as online team building games or video conference games, are contests that strengthen teamwork competencies such as communication, critical thinking, and compromise.
How to play virtual team building games:
- Evaluate the size of the group and length of the meeting, and choose an appropriate game.
- Explain the rules to participants
- Allow five minutes to half an hour for teammates to complete the competition
- Declare a winner and offer a reward such as a digital bragging rights, a virtual gift card, or points towards an ongoing competition
You can also utilize the breakout rooms feature in the software to give teams privacy during the competition.
Online games spark employee interest and competitive spirit, and are a great way to grab attention during video conferences.
3. Remote team building challenges
Work from home challenges are competitions amongst remote team members that require teammates to perform a specific task.
How to start remote team building challenges:
- Poll your team to determine suitable challenges
- Choose a challenge to complete together
- Set an amount of time for the challenge
- Describe the rules of the challenge to the team
- Check in periodically for progress updates, including during remote meetings
- Celebrate upon completion of the goal
Remote team building challenges can range from drinking more water, perfecting a yoga pose a day, or reaching inbox zero. Virtual challenges are a great way to occupy remote teams, during meetings especially.
4. Virtual team building activities
Virtual team building activities are immersive online experiences for remote groups. There are several types of online team building activities.
How to perform virtual team building activities:
- Decide which team building competency you would like to target
- Select an activity type, such as a game, challenge, or exercise.
- Explain the rules of the activity to the team
- Allow 10-20 minutes to complete
- Reflect on the activity afterwards
Virtual team building activities range from dress up days to trivia games to virtual dance parties, so there is sure to be a remote team activity to suit your meeting.
5. Zoom backgrounds
Zoom backgrounds are a fun and unobtrusive way to add fun to virtual meetings. Attendees can show off their personalities by choosing a virtual background. When sending the meeting invite, you can give participants a theme for the background, such as “favorite movies,” or “tropical.” Attendees can search for relevant Zoom backgrounds online, or create their own. You can also make Zoom backgrounds to send to your team.
6. Virtual Minute to Win It Games
Virtual Minute to Win It Games are online contests where players compete in physical challenges from behind a screen. Examples include doodling on a post-it-note stuck to the forehead or typing a paragraph using chopsticks. Since each round lasts only sixty seconds, these exercises can energize the group and add fun to meetings without cutting too much into the agenda.
Here is a list of virtual minute to win it games.
7. Remote Trivia
Trivia is one of the most fun and interactive games for meetings. There are many ways to play the game on Zoom. For instance, you can use the app Kahoot! And have attendees answer questions via mobile device. You can also send teams into breakout rooms with fillable forms, or have players race to answer in the chat. You can devote all or part of the meeting to trivia, or use the activity as a meeting opener or a segue between topics. Questions can be company or industry specific or miscellaneous. This activity is a way for team members to show off their smarts and gain recognition from teammates.
8. Loose-structured social time
Remote meetings do not have to be strictly business. While leaders tend to try to minimize meeting times to avoid Zoom fatigue, getting off-topic and chatting aimlessly can be good for team morale. You can plan social time into virtual meetings, preferably at the beginning or middle of the meeting so that teammates are not tempted to duck out early. Encouraging employees to unwind and take time to bond with colleagues online can help remote employees have more fun and feel less lonely at work, and can create a stronger sense of community in your remote-first company.
Polls are easy ways to encourage participation from meeting attendees. Zoom and similar video call platforms have polling features you can use to collect and display answers in real time. You can preload the questions before the meeting starts, and then deploy the poll when the right moment arrives. Team members can answer just-for-fun personal questions and get a feel for how much they have in common with teammates.
10. Show and Tell
One of the benefits to virtual meetings is that screens give coworkers glimpses into teammates’ home lives. Show and tell is a way for team members to share bits of themselves and their outside lives with colleagues. You can ask meeting attendees to show off their space, grab a random object, present an item with a special theme like “travel” or “hand-me-downs,” or orchestrate a cameo with a pet or baby.
11. Virtual Pizza Party
An easy way to make virtual meetings more fun is to make it a virtual pizza party. For this activity, you can either send pizzas to your participants or have them provide their own. If you choose the latter option then you should provide a stipend to cover the expense.
Here are more ideas for virtual pizza parties.
Fun ways to end a virtual meeting
Here are a few ways to leave online meetings on a high note.
- Play a high-energy song
- Have a dance party
- Share a goal for the day
- Give each coworker a compliment
- Have a mini scavenger hunt
- Read a quote of the day
- Choose a word of the day
- Perform a team chant
- Exchange virtual high-fives
- Pick an end-of-meeting ritual, like playing a funny video clip or reading a zany news story together
- Enjoy a snack or coffee
- Show off pets and/or children
- Take a screenshot selfie
- Solve a puzzle
- Swap photos
- Share personal news
- Do show & tell
- Read a statement and have attendees vote on whether it is true or false
- Have one teammate per meeting showcase a special skill
- Name an employee of the week
These short and simple activities are more entertaining ways to end a call than clicking the “leave meeting” button, and are just a few of the ways to wrap up the virtual gathering in a fun and memorable way.
Holding employees’ attention is hard enough during in-person meetings, but virtual hosts have to compete for focus against household distractions and the allure of the internet. Muting the mic and pausing video makes multitasking easier than ever.
Remote employees battle urges to grab a snack, wash a couple of dishes, or open up a dozen browser tabs. A study published by Harvard Business Review found that over 60% of participants admitted to performing other tasks during remote meetings, from the common activities of checking phone or email, to the stranger ones of chasing a dog or sunbathing.
Even if webcams remain on and employees stay seated, eyes and minds might wander. However, if you strike a balance between business, entertainment, and interaction, then employees will be much more attentive and much less likely to pull up a game of snake in a second browser window.