Virtual and remote workplaces were once a pipe dream of the future, but now with the Microsoft Suite and Teams it’s common practice. With people working remotely, from home or across the globe, the need to connect using video conferencing has risen exponentially.
People are attending upwards of five meetings per day, and this is sometimes their only form of contact with others. Let’s face it, people are feeling Teams meeting fatigue. It’s a real struggle, working from home with furry friends or families isn’t ideal but it’s reality. Constant meetings can get boring, repetitive and people start to disengage.
There are lots of ways to inject fun, have a laugh and engage during Teams meetings, even during the more professional ones. It’ll help increase moral and their energy, and that does wonders for productivity.
Shake things Up
Having the same person lead the same meetings, and hearing the same old, dry updates can get monotonous, so ditch those things. Shake things up with these fresh ideas.
- Rotate the facilitators to someone different each time. It’s a good experience for everyone to learn how to facilitate a Teams meeting and different presenters will do things differently. This will change the meeting, allow people to learn new skills and for the audience to hear someone else speak.
- Allocate roles in each Teams meeting (not just the facilitator) but also a timekeeper to keep things moving forward and a scribe/minute taker to record decisions and actions. These roles can also be rotated so everyone has a go.
- Solve problems, share ideas and brainstorm just like you would in a face-to-face meeting. You can use tools like Microsoft Whiteboard to work together and plan. Edit documents live as the team works through things during the meeting, rather than delegate it to someone to do it alone after the meeting.
- If sessions are informational like a webinar, you can run them as walking meetings where people can get some steps in and still listen to important meetings (with their camera off). This breaks things up and allows people to get some fresh air, especially if they have meetings for most of the day.
- If you follow agile practices, then continue this theme into your Teams meetings and have the team stand up. It changes everyone’s posture and energy. And keep those meetings short and sweet, the agile way.
Must haves for online meetings
Some of these may feel common sense but can really change the vibe and energy in the meeting, and make attendees feel included, appreciated and engaged.
- Give people an opportunity to talk and share their ideas (like you did back in the office) you want to promote an inclusive online environment. Make the Teams meeting more interactive and invite people to contribute regularly.
- Acknowledge each person in the Teams meeting room, some people may be shy or feel uncomfortable with online meetings so try to make them feel at ease.
- Use breakout rooms for smaller discussions, and to allow people who don’t want to speak in front of the whole group.
- Only invite the people who need to be in the meeting, it’s not the more the merrier when it comes to online meetings.
- Use ice breakers, tell a joke (keep it appropriate though) or share a funny story to help lighten the mood.
Preparation and focus
If you are the organiser, distribute an agenda ahead of time to give people enough time to prepare (if they have a section) and to understand the objectives of the Teams meeting. Use slides to keep things interesting and to share key information. Use other apps as needed.
If the discussion goes off track, try to bring it back by either taking that discussion offline or into a breakout room. For deeper or longer discussions save it for another meeting with a targeted working group so that you don’t hold everyone up in the meeting.
Inject some fun
Here are some fun ways to add some pizzaz into your Teams meetings:
- play ‘have you ever’ and make it remote themed, for example have you ever fallen asleep in an online meeting?
- make it a dress up day for example a beach holiday theme, sunglasses day, fancy hats and black-tie gala day. You can even have awards for the best dressed (there are templates in the Microsoft suite for certificates).
- have a word of the day which people can slip into their conversations for that day, such ‘elephant’. There seems to be an elephant in the kitchen wreaking havoc on the floor.
- start off the meeting with a few riddles to get everyone warmed up and engaged.
If you normally hold Friday afternoon drinks at work, then hold them online and get people out of the ‘working from home rut’ (which everyone falls into at some stage). Play games like trivia, uno or family feud, have a drink and unwind. Share a funny story or a joke and relax with the team.
Cool Microsoft Team functions
Teams has some cool functions inbuilt so utilise them as much as you can to make your meetings more engaging. This includes the together mode, live reactions, chat bubbles, backgrounds (which make for a cool talking point), live captions, transcripts, breakout rooms and much more. Information about all cool Microsoft Teams features and how they work can be found on their site.
People can feel disengaged whilst working from home, with not much human contact and with contact online meetings. They can feel isolated, and their productivity can be affected. Just pick three things from this article to try next week in your meetings and start to see a change in people’s energy levels and vibe. You could even share the article with your team and see what they want to try. Is the elephant really wreaking havoc on the kitchen floor today and has anyone noticed?