Unusual Themes for Virtual Meetings. #9: Invite a Goat.
Ban boredom. Slay tune-out. Themes add life to meetings.
Aside from technical issues, the biggest problem with virtual meetings is engagement. This challenge existed even before social distancing guidelines were implemented. Moving to virtual communication increases that challenge because it decreases the benefits received from being physically together.
There are many tried and true ways to keep attendees engaged during a virtual meeting – taking polls, chat boxes, virtual whiteboards, assigning roles, sending the agenda before the meeting – but even these have become commonplace. We’re talking about taking virtual meetings to the next level. We’re talking about adding life to your next virtual meeting. We’re talking about Themes. Oh yeah…we’re going there. We asked ourselves: Is it possible to make a virtual meeting productive AND enjoyable? We answered ourselves. Why not try?
Themes can help you enhance your meeting outcomes because they can be:
- Positive and fun – Lighten the mood and help people enjoy themselves. They may even look forward to the next meeting.
- Participatory – Keeps everyone on their toes because everyone participates equally, instead of tuning out.
- Open – People loosen up and say what they really think.
- Creative – Pushes the thinking beyond the usual and into new territory.
- Disruptive – By regularly interrupting the flow of the meeting, you’ll keep people’s minds focused, which makes for a more fun and relaxed experience.
Try Something Different
There is certainly no shortage of ideas you can google about how to make your virtual meetings more engaging. But, we’re focusing on original ideas that just might take you, and your group, out of your comfort zones while offering some memorable moments.
1. Swap Jobs
Having members of your team swap roles isn’t an original idea. However, each member taking on the role of their colleague can net some interesting results and ideas. It offers an opportunity to get other perspectives that might otherwise never surface because it’s “not my job.” You can level it up by each member taking turns facilitating the meeting.
2. Cast of Characters
Does participating in a virtual meeting, with lots of people, remind you of the Brady Bunch opening segment? Well, what if you selected (or voted on) a show or a movie and everyone had to act out a character from what you chose at the next meeting. Yoda anyone?
3. Alternate Universe
Get weird. Face it, it’s a weird time.
- Burning Man Meets Coachella. This theme idea, by Brian Worley of B. Worley Productions, allows for a carefree, relaxed vibe: “…With these two events getting so much coverage these days through social media and just how creative they are in terms of visuals, it can really be a fun event.” Translating this idea to video conferencing shouldn’t be too challenging – try rummaging through your stuff (or better yet, your kids’ stuff) to put together something unusual.
- Superheroes. Ok, not everyone will have a Wonder Woman or Ironman costume laying around, but maybe participants can create their own superhero with its own superpowers. The ability to see the future would be a good one to have right now.
4. Dress Up or Dress Down
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. But you could stretch it a bit with ideas like:
- Pajama Party. Let’s face it, sweats and a T-shirt aren’t that far from it anyway. If you have a gang that feels comfortable doing this…just do it!
- Get Cultured. Pick a culture to explore – like Mexico’s Day of the Dead – and see how creative you can get with that Halloween makeup that’s laying around. Just be respectful.
The ultimate go-to, this theme is ideal for smaller groups where talking over each other won’t be too disruptive. Charades can easily be interspersed throughout the meeting with each person getting a chance to be the mime. It also helps to ensure that each participant contributes to the meeting. You’ll need to choose a charade theme beforehand so attendees can work out their ideas, then keep a time limit on each. Be sure everyone has good bandwidth to avoid lag time – that’s not fun.
6. I Spy
We love this one! Here, you’re really just taking advantage of the fact that it’s human nature to peek at what’s in the background of everyone else’s home office.
7. Storytelling I Spy
Add intrigue with this version adapted to include mystery and the chance to learn more about each participant. To play, each person takes a turn picking an object in their house and telling the story of how they got it, without actually saying what the object is. The rest of the group then has to guess, as quickly as they can, what that object is. Decide how challenging you want it to be: keep it light by selecting common items most people probably have in their home, or let each person pick from any of their prized possessions.
8. Open Mic
Give everyone a heads up: they’ll each have about a minute to take the virtual stage. They can tell jokes, read a poem or a book excerpt, sing a song, play an instrument—anything goes! Start your meeting with these unabashed performances and be sure to allow time in between each for a rush of applause.
Try Something Really Different
Brighten up your video conference with a llama. Or how about a goat? Wild ideas like these are starting to emerge and will likely continue as people look for increasingly unusual ways to break up the monotony of virtual meetings.
9. Goat 2 Meeting is our favorite one so far. The Sweet Farm Animal Ambassadors will join your call, do a quick intro of the farm and introduce you to the animals on a virtual tour. It not only makes people smile, but you’ll be contributing to a good cause.
If you’re still looking for more, our post on Gamification dives deeper into a few science-based boredom busters. We think you’ll find it interesting.
Connect With Us
We’d be interested to know if you’ve tried any of the themes mentioned above. How did it go? What unusual methods do you use to make virtual meetings fun, creative, and productive? Head to one of our social media channels and leave a comment.
As we anticipate the return to in-person gatherings, we’ve been considering how that might look and we are working on ways that our team can assist our clients in creating new and meaningful ways to share their time together. But until then, we are here and ready to help you coordinate your virtual meetings with ideas and tech support.
Take care and stay engaged.