In the last few months, COVID-19 has taken us all by surprise and it seems as though the world has gone into hibernation. While some companies have unfortunately had to close their doors during this time, others are still charging full steam ahead, with millions of employees resuming their daily tasks from home.
Amongst the many new buzzwords and phrases of “quarantine” and “social distancing,” is the increasingly popular “Zoom meeting” — the new replacement for “conference calls,” and for now, team meetings. While some more tech-savvy companies may have had a leg up in the realm of virtual meetings, most leaders are finding themselves scratching their heads when it comes to leading effective meetings with their teams during this time.
Sound about right? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! That’s why we’ve come up with 8 helpful tips on hosting an engaging team meeting on Zoom!
Start with a compelling check-in question
It might be tempting to get straight to business and get through your Zoom meeting as quickly as possible. However, having an engaging virtual team meeting actually hinges on the first few minutes. Don’t dive right into the agenda and meeting content. These things are important, but by taking some time to have a bit of fun from the get-go, your team will stay tuned in longer and likely be more productive as a result.
We suggest taking a few minutes to have fun and get to know your team with some interesting and quirky icebreaker questions.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few fun questions to ask:
- If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be and why?
- If a weather phenomenon could describe your personality, what would it be?
- What's the most important or most random thing you've learned this week?
- If you won the lottery today, what would you do with the money?
Make sure your technology is up-to-date
There’s nothing worse than hopping on a Zoom call only to realize your internet isn’t working, your headphones are broken, or your Zoom app needs updating. If you know you’ll need to use Zoom that day, be sure to hop online first thing in the morning and test all of your equipment.
You might even need to invest in some new tech to make sure you have the most effective remote meetings possible. We highly recommend getting some quality headphones to decrease feedback and create better engagement. Check out this helpful list of the best headphones for video calls.
Keep your video on
At this point, we’ve all heard some pretty comical (and humiliating) Zoom video fails and it’s making us all a bit hesitant to turn our cameras on for virtual meetings. However, keeping your video on is key to having an engaging remote team meeting.
Having your team visible will help you read the current tone of your team, gauge responses to meeting topics, and remind your team of the fun you have when you’re in-person. While you might not be able to demand that everyone has their videos on, you can encourage them to do so by always having your own camera turned on.
Create space for feedback and comments
Any successful meeting requires time for comments and feedback and this is no different in a remote work setting. A major downside of virtual meetings is not being in-person to read body language. With that said, it’s important that you make space for your team to feel like they can contribute, even in a remote meeting.
This may require a little more silence and an additional awareness of potential cues for when someone wants to comment — like facial expressions and someone unmuting themselves. On top of this heightened awareness, you should also take time after major content to ask for feedback and questions.
Whether it’s a walk around the block, a short yoga practice, or a quick stretch break, it’s vital to get up and move during the workday, especially when you’re working from home! For longer virtual team meetings, make sure to factor in breaks for your team to go grab a snack, go to the bathroom, or just get up and move. Like in-person meetings, this will help people stay engaged and not check-out halfway through the call.
Make time for organic relationship building
A surprising amount of time in an office is spent around the water-cooler and without being physically present, you might find that your team is lacking the time and space needed for organic relationship building.
On top of icebreaker questions, create space to facilitate small talk before the meeting officially starts, start side conversations in the chat, or even set up separate meeting times to just "hang out" and collaborate effectively. Making time for friendly conversations will hopefully ease the eventual transition back to a “normal” office environment.
Make at least one topic of discussion an "everybody engages" topic
Zoom calls definitely make it easier for the quieter members of the team to go unnoticed without saying a word. While this might be an introvert's dream, it’s key to keep engaging all members of the team and make sure everyone’s thoughts and opinions are heard.
For at least one segment of the meeting, make sure you create space for every single team member to respond and collaborate. Instead of making a response optional, let your team know from the start that you want to hear from each of them on that particular topic.
For this, it’s important that everyone understands that there is no “wrong” answer and that each individual is able to contribute in a meaningful way.
Create a consistent agenda
If you’re holding regular team meetings via Zoom, it’s important to create a standard agenda format so your team knows what to expect — for example, "First we do an icebreaker and check-in, then Bobby shares an update, then we hear from Sue, then we have questions." Not only does this keep the meeting on track and within your allotted time, but it can also create an important rhythm that most teams are missing these days. Tell your team about the agenda in an email before the meeting or take a minute to outline the direction of the conversation at the start of the call.
From funny ice breakers to necessary tech upgrades, there are so many ways to host more engaging team meetings via Zoom. One thing’s for sure, remote work is the way of the future and effective virtual meetings will be the key to success.
Looking for more ways to effectively engage your remote team? AGL: Coaching for Good is here to help! Schedule a call here!