• Ariana Friedlander

When was the last time you said a virtual meeting was fun?


We are a few weeks into remote learning with our homeschooling pod. I get to be the parent on duty on Thursday. By Thursday the kids are burnt out on virtual learning. And when I've gotten to listen to their classes I can see why. They're pretty boring. 

One teacher was speaking in such a monotonous tone for so long I wanted to scream. I couldn't even listen to what he was saying because all I heard (reading between the lines) was "I don't want to be here, I don't want to be doing this, I'm doing the bare minimum to get by." 

I get it! Adapting to the changes in the ways we work this year is difficult and quite often tiring. It's also, for so many, not at all ideal. There are countless professionals who never signed up for working with a remote team, but here they are, they have to. Classes, meetings, retreats that used to be in-person are now virtual.

What's difficult is that there's a learning curve for navigating this change which can be overwhelming. But learning how to use technology is only a piece of the puzzle. The other important learning curve is figuring out how to be an effective leader in a remote world. And it starts with learning how to manage people's energy, how to engage them, and how to create a sense of connection when people aren't in the same room together.

At this point, I've led so many virtual retreats, trainings and meetings I can't even tell you the total number. And the ones that are the most effective and successful are fun and engaging, which results in them also being productive. I left the last Journal Jam I hosted so invigorated I felt like I just drank 4 shots of espresso. There was also a buzz of energy and excitement among a team when I facilitated a virtual retreat for them earlier this summer. It went better than they ever expected, in-fact there were things we did differently that they want to continue replicating regardless of whether their meeting virtually or in-person.

I know meeting virtually isn't the same as meeting in-person, and I too am grieving the absence of hugs from friends and high fives with colleagues. But that doesn't mean we should all get morose and wallow in the "virtual meetings just suck" story-line. We need to adapt the story - virtual meetings can be fun, then show up accordingly. 

There are lots of ways to make virtual meetings fun. From using noisemakers to celebrate wins, to doing a gif contest. You can have a dance-off or poetry slam. Even just making time for relationship building conversations to happen instead of getting right down to business can change everything.

Technology is making so much possible during this time. You could remain bitter and detached, or you could do something that feels somewhat awkward and makes everyone laugh. You're likely already outside of your comfort zone doing virtual meetings, why not go just a little bit further and have fun with it! 


Want to experience an invigorating virtual meeting and end your week on a high note? There's still time to register online for the Journal Jam this Friday.

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