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online meetings

10 Games and Icebreaker Activities to Engage Virtual Meeting Attendees

There was significant uncertainty during most of 2020 about how long employees would need to work from home, with many people anxiously awaiting their return to the office. A year into the pandemic with vaccinations on the rise, workers hope to keep these flexible working arrangements, ushering in the era of hybrid work.

As we navigate this transition, companies will increasingly focus on combining the in-person and remote working experiences and improving the remote work employee experience. Notably, loneliness is one of the top three challenges for remote workers, meaning there is an opportunity for companies to connect their teams and build genuine and fulfilling work relationships. 

Online Team-building Games and Activities for Virtual Meetings

There is no single way for companies to effectively address the range of concerns for employees associated with returning to office work. However, an excellent place to start is to assess how your team can build and reinforce a positive culture in both physical and digital environments. 

Consider implementing these simple team-building games and activities at the start of your video conferencing calls to strengthen your team dynamic and lessen feelings of loneliness for your remote workers. Here are ten virtual meeting icebreakers and team activities to consider:

  • 20 Questions: Provide a series of creative questions for guests to get to know each other better. Compile your list in an easy-to-access document that all team leads can access ahead of their meetings. Realistically, 20 questions are too many for any single call, but you can aim to explore at least one or two questions each meeting.
  • Ad-Lib Games: Similar to Mad Libs, you can play any variety of free online ad-lib games, like Mad:)Takes. Simply select your word game theme and have meeting attendees contribute words to fill the story. 
  • Desert Island Scenario: In this game, team members must choose three of seven optional objects for them to use if they were stranded on a deserted island. This is simple to play, and you can share the list of options in your video conference platform’s chat box so everyone can quickly review their options.
  • Desk Show and Tell: Give attendees advanced notice of this activity, and have them point their camera toward their desk to show their workspace. Encourage them to share any funny stories about the items within their reach, or explain why certain items are significant.
  • Hybrid Work Bingo: Provide your team with a new bingo card at your regularly scheduled meeting. During the week, they will fill out that card based on their work activities. At the start of your next meeting, have team members share if they got bingo and encourage them to share a story or two about the items they checked off. 
  • Name, Place, Thing, Animal: Similar to Scattergories, provide attendees with a random letter to then list a famous person’s name, a place, an animal, and a thing that begins with that letter. Allow one minute for people to write their answers, and then have everyone share their responses.
  • Rank It: Provide a list of five random objects and a fictitious scenario, and ask meeting attendees to rank those items in terms of usefulness in the scenario. The goal is to provide a diverse range of options and out-of-the-box scenarios, including objects like “hairdryer,” “overcooked spaghetti,” or “a blue marker that only works half the time,” and scenarios like “ski vacation,” “year-end review of results,” or “space exploration.”
  • Scattergories: At the start of each call, give attendees one letter and five categories in your video conferencing chat window. Give them one minute to come up with a word that starts with that letter and fits within the category, and then have everyone read their answers.
  • Two Truths and a Lie: Ask guests to share two truths about themselves and one lie. Then, have the other attendees vote on which of the three statements is the lie.
  • Virtual Scavenger Hunt: Ask guests to find obscure items in their homes within one minute. You can grab a variety of free lists here.

Whichever game(s) you decide to play, remember that consistency is vital to establish a new pattern for your employees. Encourage all people managers and team leads to start their calls with a five-minute activity and solicit new icebreaker ideas from attendees.

A Hybrid Workforce Needs Modern Video Conferencing  Solutions

Evolving your workplace culture to support a hybrid workforce is an exciting opportunity, and directly ask your team about how you can improve their experience.

Continue to introduce new games and activities during your conference calls to keep ideas fresh and provide new ways for team members to get to know each other.

Even the best efforts to connect a team can fall flat, though, if the right technology isn’t in place. Some video conferencing solutions are clunky, unintuitive, and will crush even the most fun team-building activities. 

Learn how Team.Video and Socialhour.com can support your team’s video conferencing and virtual event  needs.

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online meetings

How To Combat ‘Zoom Fatigue’ For More Fulfilling Video Meetings

The rapid shift to online, remote-based work provided many benefits for employees and employers alike. These flexible working arrangements are here to stay, even once COVID-19 is no longer a concern. 

There is an unintended side effect of this new way of work, though, and it stems from ineffective, badly designed tools and misguided approaches to handling meetings with a remote team: “Zoom fatigue.” But by understanding the cause of this fatigue, you can adjust your approach to online meetings in a way that better engages your team.

What Is Zoom Fatigue And Why Are Video Calls Tiring?

Despite being a convenient replacement for our in-person interactions, video calls require a more significant effort to truly process the conversation (the primary cause of Zoom fatigue).

That’s because a great deal of crucial content is communicated not in what we say, but instead in how we say it, with nonverbal cues like hand gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact. Intrinsically, video calls make it difficult to absorb these nonverbal cues. Only so much of any given speaker can be seen, spotty internet connections can distort speech, and grid-style views can easily send an attendee into sensory overload. 

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online meetings

3 Online Meeting KPIs That Can Uncover a Toxic Workplace Culture

This post originally appeared on the Team.Video blog.

With an estimated 42 percent of the U.S. labor force currently working from home full-time, your online meetings have become how you keep your workplace culture alive. Unfortunately, these same virtual meetings may also be contributing to creating a toxic workplace culture that leads to employee disengagement.

The good news is, unlike those in-person meetings held in your company’s cleverly named office conference rooms, your online meetings give you the potential to gather and measure data that can be used to identify and address potentially toxic workplace issues in the making. Here are three questions to ask your team members to weigh in on, and measure through your online meeting platform.

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online meetings

Introducing now.me

This post originally appeared on the Team.Video blog.

Today we are excited to share now.me — a way to get right to the meeting you’re supposed to be in right now. At any given moment, if you visit the site, it will look at your calendar, see what video call you’re meant to be in, and take you right there. It works with most video call providers, including Zoom, Google Meet, Whereby, team.video, and others. We have been using this tool internally for a while now, and thought we might as well share it with the world.

In a way it seems like a small problem to solve. It’s not so hard to open up your calendar, find the meeting you’re supposed to be in, find the link to it, and open it up. But at that moment when it’s time to get together with your clients or colleagues, that time is precious. We want those brain cycles in to go toward preparing for the conversation that is about to take place. Especially if we’re running late, or if we’re trying to get together materials to share, or deep in thought pondering whatever trade-offs we are about to weigh — it can make a big difference not to have to context-switch at that moment.

As we use now.me, we find ourselves dreaming of next iterations: Beautiful as it is in its current state, it could be nice to add support for custom themes where we could set our own images, or toggle dark mode. Another idea we’ve pondered is an option to keep a now.me tab open, and then when a meeting is about to start, it would show a notification and even automatically join the meeting in a new tab, with no interaction required.

We’d love to hear your feedback! Try it out at https://now.me

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online meetings

Zoom treats you like a child

This post originally appeared on the Team.Video blog.

Deeply ingrained in Zoom’s defaults are choices that do not encourage us to expect the best from each other. We spend such vast amounts of time in video meetings now that we should question what behaviors our platforms are driving us to, and how they affect our interactions with our friends, family, and colleagues at work.

“Waiting for the host to start the meeting”

This message can be infuriating. The host is on vacation, or they’re in a car somewhere, or they’re there but having trouble logging in. Or worse, everyone wonders, who is the host of this meeting, anyway? Is it me? Am I holding us back at this moment? For God’s sake, when will we be able to get on with the actual work we have to do?

And really, why can’t we just carry on without the host? Of course if you go into all the right admin screens and click all the right buttons, you can turn this off, but since it is the default, this experience inevitably creeps in.

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online meetings

Camera on or off? A UX approach to video meeting fatigue

This post originally appeared on the Team.Video blog.

Video conferencing is the new office / living room / dinner table / doctors office…

As the spaces of our social lives have transitioned to a limited number of software interfaces, fatigue and burnout has skyrocketed taxing our mental health and productivity. While video conferencing apps are keeping us employed and connected, they are not prepared to handle this mass shift in our daily routines and social interactions.

What makes video conferencing so different?

When we spend our days sitting in our makeshift offices and personal spaces staring at our coworkers, friends, doctors, teachers and families (and don’t forget ourselves!) in little boxes on our screens we miss so much of the social experience of real face to face interactions. We’re unable to read body language, engage in normal social rituals, have serendipitous conversations—to move!

We’re also responding to a unending amount of new information that our brains need to process—our personal lives surrounding us at home, the apartments and houses of our coworkers and their personal lives happening around them, the host of distractions on our desktops and the lure of almost unnoticeable multitasking.

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online meetings

Please interrupt me!

This post originally appeared on the Team.Video blog.

At Team.Video, one of our founding principles is “be inclusive.”

In life, and in video meetings, there are folks who are more and less inclined to speak. Sometimes folks get excited, and have a lot to say about a topic. It can be hard in video meetings for others to find a place to interject, whether to voice agreement, ask a clarifying question or offer an alternative view. One might wait for a natural pause, reach for the un-mute button, take a moment to consider their words and find that the conversation has moved along.

The more people on the call, the harder the decision gets — whether it’s worth the interjection to voice agreement or skepticism, or whether to abstain and let things take their course.

The easy thing to do, even for the extroverts, is to stay quiet. But in order to make the best decisions we can, it is vitally important to hear dissenting opinions. By staying quiet and not interrupting, while we let the meeting sail along, we might miss the best outcome.

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online meetings

Dancing with himself: Beauty and tragedy at a kindergarten Zoom dance party

This post originally appeared on the Team.Video blog.

My five year old had a dance party with some other kindergarteners from his class at his school, and in some ways it was just brilliant.

He’s been a real trooper during the lockdown. Every morning he watches the video lessons his teachers have uploaded the night before. He prints out the day’s worksheets, and always dutifully gets through them. He says he actually doesn’t even mind staying inside so much, as he has declared himself to be an “indoor person.”

But it has been rough for him not to be able to just hang out and be silly with his friends every now and again, like kids need to do. When we learned his whole crew was feeling lonely, the idea to have a zoom dance party was floated, and immediately well-received by all.