Have you ever looked up from reading a presentation on your screen only to see a colleague’s eyes closing?
Not a very reassuring sight, is it? Like when someone yawns while you are talking. It makes you pause. It creeps up on you and makes you want to yawn, too.
Does a sleepy team member mean you are a boring speaker? Not always. Experts say virtual team meetings make a person more exhausted than an actual face-to-face meeting. Too much time focusing on the screen drains our brain. Also, in virtual meetings, we tend to keep ourselves from moving as much as we do in face-to-face meetings. We see ourselves on the screen, and it makes us self-conscious, so we sit in one position as long as we can. Doing this tires our body out and adds to our exhaustion.
So, it’s not always the speaker’s fault that people get sleepy.
The good news is virtual meetings can be made livelier, and there are a lot of tools we can use to do that. Music, for example!
Who doesn’t love music, right? We each have a favorite song, a favorite artist. There are songs that we listen to over and over. We hum melodies while we wash the dishes or fold laundry. We put our earphones on when we want to concentrate. Or when we don’t want to talk to anybody.
Read on to learn how music can help to create more laughter and make for fewer sleepy eyes on the screen.
1. Choose a song to sing together before the meeting starts.
Once the meeting room opens and screens start showing faces, the team expects to hear the usual greeting and to have the meeting start right away. How about a surprise? Ask one person to name the song that’s in his head at the moment. Ask him why it was in his head. Did he hear it on the radio? Perhaps he saw it on TV? Was the neighbor singing it this morning?
Look for the song on YouTube, play it, then ask everyone to sing along if they know it. Or sway to the beat. Or tap the rhythm.
Make it something they can look forward to by choosing a random person to ask at each meeting. Ask them not to prepare a song. Just name whatever is in their head at the moment. If they don’t know the title, ask them to hum the tune so the team can help identify it. Wouldn’t that be a new way to create connection and camaraderie?
2. Select a song as a background.
People use background scenes to add color and amusement to virtual team meetings. Then how about playing a relaxing, soothing song as a background?
We keep our surroundings as quiet as possible during a meeting to hear the speaker better and to minimize distractions. But imagine this – soft, pleasant bossa nova or jazz music playing in the background as you discuss the team’s performance for the week. You can all enjoy a bit of coffee shop atmosphere in your own homes. The mood would still be professional, with just enough of a casual air to encourage conversation. And did you know? Studies say that coffee shop music can ease the strain of staying seated for a long time, reducing physical exhaustion.
For variety, especially if not all of you like coffee shop music, you can go for soft rock or alternative music, or any song with repetitive rhythms. These are said to help increase productivity in employees. Better yet, ask your team what kind of music they want! As long as it does not distract. Be sure to remind people to mute their mics if they feel like humming the chorus.
3. Use sound effects.
This one doesn’t exactly use songs, but unexpected or even expected sound effects could draw out a grin or two. Or a snort if it was hilarious.
A thumbs-up sound effect for a good suggestion, a game show bell for a correct answer, or claps for a job well done would be sure to break the monotony of just talking and staring at the screen.
4. Play a game. The loser sings a song!
When a meeting is an hour or more in length, people lose focus quickly. A game can wake up the brain again and help team members be more active.
Play a few rounds of a quick game. A simple word association, for example. The person who fails to provide a word would need to sing a song. It doesn’t have to be the whole song; a stanza or the chorus would do. He doesn’t even need to really sing. He could just hum the song. Just keep everything light and fun!
5. Play “Guess the Song” to pick “volunteers” for a task.
It can be difficult to find volunteers for certain tasks sometimes. To change things up, play “Guess the Song”. The person or persons who can’t guess a song will be the chosen “volunteers.”
Make sure to pick songs from a variety of genres and eras, especially if your team members are from different age groups. Allow for some competitiveness and a lot of laughter.
6. To end the meeting, ask a colleague his favorite song. Play the song and tap the rhythm on your desks.
Lastly, before you say your good-byes and see-you-tomorrows, pick another person and ask for his favorite song. Now ask everyone if they know it. If they don’t, or only a few people do, ask the person you picked to sing or hum a few lines. Or search for the song on YouTube. Now ask everyone to tap the rhythm on their desks. Hum along. Do a couple of rounds of this, enough to leave a couple of notes of the melody in their heads. They will be humming the tune even after the meeting.
Make this something they can look forward to by randomly asking a colleague each meeting to choose a song for the next one. It doesn’t have to be a favorite song. It could be an advertising jingle from their childhood. Or a song from their favorite movie. You won’t run out of categories to choose from.