4 Ways to Make Remote Meetings Effective, Even Fun

How to keep people’s attention and encourage human connection in these new staples of the workday.

Callie loves working remotely and so does her team, but she has a hard time getting everyone to truly connect when they meet as a group.

Remote meetings are nothing new at this point. Even as leaders push for more employees to return to the office, 40% of American workers now do their jobs remotely at least some of the time, and one in three spend 80% of their working hours outside the office. But even after two years of practice, remote video meetings are often disengaging, inefficient, or downright boring.

Since these post-COVID trends aren’t likely to reverse anytime soon, how can hybrid virtual meetings become more inspiring? Here are our tips.

Use the software’s bells and whistles.

As tempting as it is to host a voice call, have everyone turn on video. Just seeing each other’s faces will up the connection factor—and hold everyone accountable in terms of paying attention. Encourage people to ask questions using the group-chat feature. “When all team members feel welcome to ask and answer questions, knowledge sharing happens and subject-matter experts may emerge,” says Rasha Accad, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. In a large meeting, create opportunities for smaller group discussions using breakout sessions.

Give people a reason to connect.

When people need a quick question answered or want to problem-solve during the workday, they often post it on a message board. But a quick meeting often gets to the answer faster and builds bonds within the team. Help team members support each other by assigning partner pairs who can be sounding boards for each other. You could also nominate some subject-matter experts on specific topics and make sure everyone knows to make them their first point of contact.

Prioritize humanity.

Dedicate the first few minutes of your meetings to casual catch-ups or icebreaker games. Of course, everyone needs to come to the meeting prepared (which includes reviewing the agenda) so there’s time for connection and discussion.

“Throughout the call, introduce fun and lightness,” Accad says. “Let people bring their full personalities and humanity to work. Don’t be afraid to laugh.”

Celebrate each other.

Instead of sending out a mass email, share your team’s individual successes in the meeting group chat. For example: “Hey team! John just signed a big contract, join me in congratulating him!” Team members may not always know what their colleagues are working on, and hearing about successes in the group builds positive momentum. Just make sure you acknowledge everyone on the call who contributed to the win, not just the highest-profile players.