SALT LAKE CITY — Zoom, like Google, has not only become a household name but a verb. Everyone is Zooming these days, even the youngest amongst us.
Though Zoom is not the only video conferencing platform, it’s become popular thanks to its convenience amidst a world-wide rush to work from home.
On April 22, Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan announced that the platform now has more than 300 million daily active meeting participants. To put this into perspective, Zoom previously reported it had a total of 10 million daily users at the end of December 2019.
Since communicating and conducting business remotely is now the new normal, each new meeting tends to blend into the last. It might be time to get creative and make your next Zoom call memorable.
Here are five ideas to take your Zoom meetings to the next level.
1. Theme your meetings
To mix things up, add a theme to your next Zoom call and invite people to show up in a unique or specific attire.
Leena Rinne, vice president of consulting with FranklinCovey, wanted to get creative with a recent weekly team meeting so she added a fancy invitation for optional formal attire. To her surprise, 45 people showed up in full formal attire, tuxedos included.
"Honestly, I just expected a few people to join in fancy clothing and was so amazed when nearly everyone did. One gentleman was even in a top hat. Many women were in stunning ball gowns, and there were several people who had wine glasses full of water, and they were toasting each other on camera.
"I think at a time when people were anxious, and perhaps a bit lonely, this was a way to just have fun and connect," Rinne said.
If you are looking for a more simplistic theme, you could try: hat day, worst shirt wednesday, or favorite team friday. A theme can start a meeting off with humor and help people get to know each other better.
2. Hold a background contest
Utilize the virtual background feature on Zoom to hold a background contest. During each meeting, vote on who has the best virtual background.
You can also have people try and guess the location, television show, or movie scene from which the background originates.
Maybe use the background feature to get to know each other better. Have participants show off their favorite vacation or a photo from their childhood.
A quick online search will help you find fun and free Zoom backgrounds ranging from HBO favorites to Pixar locations, and even the Millennium Falcon. But you’ll have to download the image and load it into your Zoom profile before your meeting.
3. Bring a pet to work
Wendy Davis works for Western Governors University and has been using Zoom to run her Friday team meetings. She’s tried different things to keep things interesting, but nothing was as fun as bringing the zoo, or rather farm, into Zoom.
"I tried to book a llama to attend the meeting, but they were all booked out," Davis explained. "So, I had my sister who has a farm in Texas join the meeting and my nieces showed off the ponies, horses and cows. It was a big hit."
You could simplify things by having everyone introduce their pets — or children — to the group.
4. Try a virtual 'happy hour'
Maintaining a sense of culture and community is important for engagement and productivity. Many are finding they are getting to know each other better through working remotely and activities like a virtual happy hour can help.
"We do a remote happy hour on Friday so everyone leaves happy," explains Erin Strong, a Salt Lake City resident. "We just chat, people play guitar, and we share our movie or show preferences."
If beginning of the day is better for your team, try a "coffee chat" or "mug shot morning." From all accounts, either coffee chats or virtual happy hours seem to go over best when conversations are kept light and supportive.
5. Play a game
At the end of each Zoom call with their teacher, my third grade twins play a scavenger hunt. Their teacher shouts out a category and they run to grab a matching item and see who can get back first. The students love it.
Zoom games are not just for kids and can be easily incorporated into work meetings, too, especially if you add in a gift card for the winner. Games that have successfully worked for others include Charades, Zoom Bingo, Would You Rather, or Guess That Kid.
"Wednesday we are holding a virtual picnic with a bubble-blowing contest," said Lanissa Bell, who works at Global Medical Staffing. "Who knows what will be next? But I have found we are learning more about each other than we have in all the years we have been sitting side by side."