A banner with the 5 tips to keep participants engaged presented in a zoom call format.

by Emily Richardson | 5 minute read

As the world begins to return to “normal,” not everything is going to go back to the way it once was. Many companies are continuing to work from home and are decreasing the amount of travel for employees and consultants. Some consider this approach great news, but when it comes to collaborating via Zoom for hours a week, some disagree. How often have you been back-to-back on zoom calls that struggle to keep your attention? Here are 5 tips on how to keep your participants engaged and have entertaining zoom meetings.

1. Utilize a Collaboration Tool.

PowerPoints are so 2019. With collaboration moving digital, a computer monitor with four people and mouse cursors it’s important to pick a tool that attendees can interact with. Tools such as Miro and Mural are great tools and are very effective when used correctly. When using a collaboration tool, it’s key to do a quick tutorial with your attendees on how use the functions you will be using during the session. Doing so will set everyone up for success to participate.

an orange flame
Hot Take: Do not share your screen! Yes, you read that right. Instead, share the link to the collaboration tool, ask attendees turn on their camera, and then have them follow along in the tool! This method helps keep attendees engaged and pushes for collaboration.

2. Kick It Off with a BANG!

It is time for a meeting. You click the link, enter the meeting, go on mute, multitask, and then wait for someone to kick it off. Does this sound familiar? To most, I would assume yes – it is done multiple times a day. Now, imagine this: it is time for a meeting. You open the meeting invite, click the zoom link, and then the link where the team is collaborating. Once you are in the meeting, getting ready to multitask, you’re caught off guard by tunes playing and an ice breaker on the screen. You get intrigued and decide to participate. Which meeting sounds more enjoyable?

A fantastic way to kick off a meeting and bring some of the “water cooler” talk back is by starting with an ice breaker and some tunes. By doing so, you accomplish two things: you ensurea party popper with confetti coming out and music notes around it the attendees know how to use the tool, and you already have engagement before you even start with your session’s main topic. One of my personal favorite ice breakers is The Gif Challenge. You put a phrase on the screen, and then ask the team to find the perfect gif to match it!

3. Organize the Chaos!

As the ice breaker ends and the team is already engaged, be sure to do a quick agenda for the meeting and go over what you are hoping to accomplish during the session. If you have multiple topics, be sure to structure your board to reflect how you are planning to have the conversation flow. See the Mural board below:

It is important to have the structure of a sheet of paper with 1, 2, 3, and 4your meeting well planned out and prepped. Each topic should have a header, a goal, and a timebox. With this structure, you are helping drive the conversation, which will keep the meeting moving. Bonus points for having a collaboration opportunity on each topic too!

4. Keep ‘em Moving with Activities!

You are using a collaboration tool, so make the most use of it! Activities throughout the meeting are key to keeping engagement high. Activities can be brain storming, drawing lines, adding notes while others are speaking... Anything that gets eyes on the board and cursors moving will help make the meeting successful. If a meeting is to review content, a favorite activity of mine is the “Active Listening” activity.a small post it and pencil As the speaker is talking through their content, have the other attendees demonstrate active listening by placing emojis and comments throughout the content. For this activity, have thumbs up, hearts, and question marks on the board ready to be used.

5. The Exit Criteria Is...

As the meeting wraps up and there are a few minutes left,
ask for feedback from the team (this is also a fun time to play some tunes). I like to call this segment “Exit Criteria.” Before everyone leaves, ask them to share one piece of feedback. One way to do this is by having a retro-style board on the last screen that asks what went well, a check mark, light bulb, and stop signwhat could use improvement, and what needs to stop. By keeping it simple, they are more likely to engage and share. Getting feedback as exit criteria allows them to not worry about what others are writing and drop a quick line.

Being on Zoom all day can be draining, but by incorporating a few unique and fun features into the meeting, it will turn your Zooms from gloom to bloom. While this blog is not a Zoom meeting, I would love to end it with an exit criteria for you: leave a comment with your favorite (work appropriate) song or share your favorite ice breaker!