Six ways to make your next Zoom meeting actually fun and productive

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When you look at your calendar first thing in the morning and see it filled with back-to-back Zoom meetings, you probably don’t feel a warm and happy feeling. Instead, you may feel stressed, overwhelmed, or defeated before you even start your day.

Well, misery loves company, so you can bet your co-workers feel the same way about their Zoom-filled calendars.

You can be the antidote to fear by making the next Zoom meeting you lead feel different from what has become standard virtual interaction, predictable and probably forgettable. That means you have to ditch all the Zoom standards that have become habit-forming and broaden your approach. Then you will become the host of online meetings that people actually want to attend. And here’s the bonus: when you become the superhero who eliminates boring, tedious and exhausting Zoom meetings, you stand out and strengthen your personal brand.

Here are six techniques to spice things up. You don’t need to integrate them all; just incorporating a few will make your meetings more enjoyable for attendees and help you demonstrate your ability to innovate (which is a winning brand attribute, by the way).

1. Start well before the meeting.

  • Some activities do not need to be part of the meeting itself. Send preparation information in advance. Chances are there will be content that everyone can participate in independently before coming to the meeting. Make the meeting all about interaction, brainstorming, human connection and conversation. Create a prep package for things that people can check out when it suits them (and make sure it’s delivered in a fun and engaging way, too).
  • Ask attendees to come up with something interesting to share, like their favorite quote, a photo of their home office, or their favorite joke.

2. Focus on the first 60 seconds. How you start will impact the entire attendee experience.

  • Give people time to recover from their previous Zoom meeting. Start with something that acknowledges the stress we all experience. This quick and calm Stress Coach video features a simple activity to reduce stress levels, making it a great way to center your meeting attendees.
  • After your ‘chill out’, start with something unexpected and magnetic, like a short video, a riddle or a fun quiz. This lets attendees know “This meeting won’t be like most Zoom meetings.”
  • Start at the end. Let people know early on that it’s going to end early – everyone loves the gift of free time.

3. Maintain engagement throughout the meeting.

  • Create interesting transitions between subjects. When you create a visual (gif or animated video) or sound, you signal that the topic is about to change and get participants off autopilot. It’s called a pattern interrupt, and it helps people resist multitasking and stay engaged.
  • Add a soundtrack. For things like polls or brainstorms, consider a non-intrusive soundtrack that will fill the space without being distracting. You can find royalty-free music on SoundRangers.
  • Think big when the screen is small. Make what you share friendly for a small screen. There’s nothing like having to look at slides full of words that look like the fine print of a pharmaceutical ad. Choose a 32 point font or larger. And if it’s a spreadsheet you’re sharing, send it a link ahead of time.

4. Create a shared experience.

  • Use a consistent background and branded materials to make it look like all attendees live in the same place. Jim Szafranski, CEO of Prezi, said in a recent interview, “The biggest trend we’re seeing is that companies increasingly want to infuse their company colors into branded virtual meetings. We’ve seen that their first priority is to create branded meeting templates to capture the immersion and professionalism you previously only got in the office. Branding gives everyone a sense of place, just like the office lobby and conference rooms, and makes them feel like part of the experience. »
  • Get everyone to share something interesting, like their favorite quote or the weirdest thing about them. You can let them know in advance what they need to bring so they can be prepared.

5. Use technology to make it more human.

  • Counterintuitive but true. Technology-based focus groups and other opportunities to interact with colleagues (such as polls, contests, etc.) add a touch of the human connection we used to experience in meetings in the real world.

6. End on an uplifting note.

  • Give attendees a reason to smile as they leave, not to hit the “end meeting” button. Conclude with anything from a joke to an inspirational video or a goofy YouTube or Tik Tok clip.

With the right approach, your colleagues will begin to associate you (and your personal brand) with a very valuable experience that everyone is looking forward to.

William Arruda is a keynote speaker, author, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of LinkedIn profile type indicator (LPTI) which measures the likeability and credibility of your LinkedIn profile.

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