Let’s be honest remote team meetings can sometimes feel like hard work. How can you make zoom meetings more personal and fun, while not making some of your team members feel awkward?
Teams that sometimes share personal information perform better than teams that don’t. A big step to starting this is for leaders to lead by example. That is often difficult when face to face, but it can feel much harder when we are all meeting on zoom, or teams. There’s a tendency to get to business faster and be more focused.
Creating five minutes at the beginning of a meeting, which people know about in advance, can allow your team to catch up a little.
You might also try setting time to once side for informal video chat with over coffee or lunch breaks where the purpose is to catch up, not to talk business.
Good for morale or damaging?
These more personal parts of a meetings can help build connection and morale. But there’s a balance to be met, most introverts (and 25% of extroverts) don’t like small talk. Forcing it onto people, can damage the team. How can you make your informal team talk different?
Linking business and personal
A quick way to start things off is to ask everybody to provide one personal success from the last week and one business success. This helps as you’re making everybody look for something positive and that can help get to know each other. Everybody gets to talk, but only for 2 minutes each. Doing this to start every meeting makes people look for the positive, which is always a good thing. It’s short enough to not be painful for those who dislike small talk and “enforced fun”.
A variation is for you to pick a business success and ask each person for what they think made it successful. If you pick something that many people contributed to, so much the better.
Lessons from work and life is another variation. Get each person to pick one thing they’ve learnt at work recently and one lesson from home.
Getting more physical and sprinkling “fun”
I cringe when people tell me to add fun to meetings, many people don’t appreciate the false idea of it.
What you’re really trying to do is relax the boundaries a bit and allow fun and personal items to creep in, rather than making everybody laugh. Use this list to inspire you and liven up your zoom meetings.
- Rename yourself. Announce this the day before the meeting. Encourage people to change their screen name (actually change it, not just say it) to a favourite (sports star, cartoon character, TV star etc.). You can change the theme each month you do it. The first 5 minutes of the meeting are for each person to say what they like about that star. For the rest of the meeting, call them that name.
- Tea time: Get everybody to show off their favourite tea cup (or whatever they drink from) and tell one memory attached to it, or what makes it their favourite. It gets the team to share something and it’s visual.
- Three words: Pick a subject (last week, the company, home life) and get everybody to share three words to give their answer. If you anonymise this with a tool like mentimeter.com you can have some fun, end up with a word cloud and nobody has to feel difficult. Below there’s an example of a word cloud, which could be used to spark a short discussion
- 22 tips to improve your remote team meetings
- 5 tips to make your meetings better and include introverts
- Why are remote team meetings so tiring?
Or listen to:
An interview with Helene Jewell of the International Association of Facilitators on how to improve your meetings.