If you’re feeling a little (or maybe more than a little) worn down by virtual meetings, you’re far from alone — most are just not all that engaging, especially after your fifth meeting of the day! Reality has set in, the honeymoon is over. What began optimistically as a means to keep us connected is becoming a daily reminder of just how distanced we are. But there’s hope yet — cue creative interaction.
Why? Well, for starters, we’re in a virtual space, not a conference room. We have to design meetings around the tools we’re given. When we login to these meetings via the same devices we use for streaming services and social media, our brains are primed to expect some type of entertainment, and often, interaction as well. One look at the way in which we post and respond to video content should tell you that we expect a lot from the virtual space.
The problem is, most virtual meetings aren’t set up this way. Instead of reveling in their virtual advancements, they focus on replicating their physical counterparts. Most favor a ‘presentation-style’ format centering on one speaker at a time. This is fine for many types of corporate meetings, but waters down processes like brainstorming and creative interaction, which benefit from the energy of a room and non-linear workflow.
Not to mention that while an otherwise traditional meeting is taking place on our screens, we can’t help but be distracted by the many things happening just beyond — i.e. the kids tackling each other in the other room, the neighbor mowing the lawn, the clothes dryer buzzing. If you want to create engagement, you have to capture attention, and you have to consciously up your virtual meeting game.
Creative interaction doesn’t have to be difficult, it just takes a little planning:
Step 1 – Start with a challenge
Think about your company, your team, common goals and interests, or an issue you’d like to solve. Is there something purposeful for the company that you can create together, or something you can do just for fun as a team building session? Whatever you decide, lay out your challenge at the top of the meeting and make it something you can tackle within 90 minutes or less.
Step 2 – Enable virtual creativity
Creative meetings thrive on energy and interaction. Use the virtual tools available to prompt collaboration, such as shared whiteboards, breakout rooms, word cloud generators, and shared mood boards to give everyone a creative voice. For instance, when it comes to our virtual songwriting sessions, breakout rooms allow teams to work on various sections of the song at the same time.
Step 3 – Balance work and play
Even though you’re getting creative, too much can feel like work. Be sure to stage breaks into your session — e.g. an entertaining trivia session, an opportunity to share your funniest work-from-home moments, or even a short physical activity. Dr. Vivek Murthy, former surgeon general for President Obama and author of Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, mentioned in a recent WSJ webinar that “the physical activity component is one of the shortcomings of virtual conferencing.” You’re essentially locked in front of a camera, seated for hours as you try to remain in-frame and engaged. He encourages movement wherever possible.
Step 4 – Celebrate your creations
Whatever challenges you solve, follow up and share achievements readily with the team. This can be as simple as a social media post that tags your team and celebrates the win. The goal is to continually reinforce the meeting experience and lay a positive foundation for future virtual meetings.
SongDivision’s virtual meeting & event sessions unite teams around their purpose through songwriting and musical interaction.
Book a virtual songwriting session that won’t leave you and your team totally zoomed out.