Here at API, we recognize how important it is to our company culture—and our values—that we find new ways to stay connected to one another.
Part of that “connecting” gets handled when we host weekly team meetings via video conference. It’s a way to see one another, and, in effect, “check in.”
As one of our team members, Jennifer Pickerel, describes it, “The fact that we conduct our staff meetings via video is essential; we find it allows for a lot more ‘play in your day’ and keeps us highly engaged.”
Finding a ‘Fun’ Connection
Despite a lot of business that transpires during our productive meetings, so does a lot of laughter. Real, honest “LOLing” is another proven key to finding professional balance.
That’s why, at API, we’ve really been working on mixing things up, so that our meetings are not all business, and include some much-needed fun, games and laughter.
Why, you might ask?
Having fun increases our sense of joy and belonging. And it gives us a chance to be spontaneously creative for a few minutes out of the day. It also helps us break out of our shell for a minute and learn a little bit more about our colleagues, including their likes and dislikes—what makes them “tick.”
What you and your team decide to do for fun during meetings, be they in person or virtual, is wide open, but let me share some fun experiences we at API have used to great effect.
Chill with an Ice Breaker
One of our most fun and creative ice breakers we used recently was what we called “API Jeopardy.” In it, Jennifer Pickerel came up with a handful of special, highly relatable categories that generated a lot of laughter. Another time, we scanned in a baby photo of ourselves, and the team had to guess who was who.
Yet another memorable team celebration over video was the brainstorm of our very creative CEO Sheryl Barden, and it took some planning on her part. For this one, she actually sent each of us a package containing a small bottle of pre-made margarita—and, with them, we toasted the achievement of a team member’s goal! You can just imagine the laughter THAT generated!
A few additional fun ways to start a meeting include:
Share your favorite color. Bring an item from your desk that no one else is likely to have. Tell an embarrassing story about your children. Name your favorite movie. Describe your dream vacation. Tell us a job you’d love to try, and one you wouldn’t. Name a song or set of song lyrics that describe your life.
Tips to Make Meetings Fun Again
Aside from these above, following are a few suggestions to help guide you toward adding a little fun and levity to your video conferences.
Add Fun to your Meeting Agenda
If you know you’ve got a lot to cover, add your “fun” to the beginning to make sure you don’t run out of time. We usually dedicate about five minutes. It can even be something as simple as a brief, two-minute round-robin question for everyone to answer. The key is to break the ice and get people relaxed and smiling. (And, no, you don’t have to include personal answers to the minutes of the meeting!)
Nominate a Weekly “Fun Maker”
Assign a different “fun maker” to host each ice-breaker. Rotating the meeting host keeps things interesting. Plus, it gives the weekly “fun makers” a chance to show off their creativity. You may even want to offer the fun maker a small budget, or suggest a certain time frame for the exercise.
Keep it Short!
There’s nothing that kills the positive mood of a meeting more than having it run on too long. Regardless of what you do, keep in mind that this is still a work meeting, and allowing it to run longer than 50 minutes is generally ill-advised.
In closing, I want to share a very insightful passage I read in this July 2019 HBR article, regarding the importance of team building and relationships:
Many of us strive for a meaningful job, an impressive title, or a sizable salary at the ideal company. In doing so, we drastically undervalue the importance of relationships, even though extensive research shows that it’s people, not the perfect job, that lead to fulfillment. By anchoring ourselves in relationships, and buffering against those that pull us away, we can find the satisfaction we’re seeking right where we are.
So take care, build good relationships and remember: have fun!