As we all do our part to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19, necessity has forced some to make adjustments where possible to continue conducting business. Online meetings have boomed, with Zoom reporting 200 million daily meeting participants in March of 2020 compared to 10 million in December 2019. With so many newbies, no time for a gradual learning curve, and everything happening in the home office (including homeschooling and pet sitting), every meeting participant has encountered comedic errors. We can all use a good laugh as we face the changes caused by this viral threat, so here are our playful recommendations to keep things interesting during all pandemic conference calls.
1. Promote Mask Use, Even While Sheltering in Place
Put on your favorite mask before those pandemic conference calls. This also gives you a fun bandit look! As an added bonus, it’s easy to pop secret snacks into your mouth and chew during meetings if you just look like you’re adjusting your mask.
2. Make Your Child Your Meeting Proxy
Concurrent working from home plus homeschooling provides an amazing opportunity to prepare your children for the real world. Dress your child up to attend video meetings as you. Have them take notes and consult you with their best business advice for the meeting topic. Give them a cup of coffee to add to the authenticity. (Note, decaf is advised.)
3. Prompt a 7th Inning Stretch
Once that meeting passes 50 minutes, all bets are off. Your fitness tracker is probably telling you to move around anyway. Stand up and start singing the ballpark favorite “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Other attendees will obviously join in, as will their children. NO ONE can resist that jaunty baseball tune.
4. Train Your Dog to Help You Dodge Questions
No one wants to be put on the spot, especially when video meetings show your lack of a poker face. Train your dog to bark incessantly on cue. With a quick off-camera hand signal, Sparky can make it impossible for you to answer tough questions. Good boy!
5. Costume Your Office Mates
Pandemic conference calls from the home office mean your cohabitants will inevitably make guest appearances in your business meetings. Dress anyone who may appear on camera. This is a great way to reuse those Halloween costumes. See if anyone notices Santa Claus and a dinosaur in your next video call.
6. Treat the Call as a Snacking Challenge
It’s a simple thing, but snacks can make everything better. Load your desk with a mini buffet of flavors and textures so you can eat your way through the meeting. Pizza, popcorn, a crudité platter and an entire wheel of cheese make meetings even more fun. Alert teammates how much you’ve eaten on group chat.
7. Get Crazy with Your Background
If you don’t have a backdrop to break out for calls, turn your reluctant home office into an eclectic area with eye-catching kitsch. See if anyone spots your dusty bobblehead collection, dented slide whistle, or neon beer sign from college. You could also try a digital background and pretend you’re on vacation and not on lockdown, holding pandemic conference calls in your pajamas.
8. Replace Yourself with a Puppet
Substitute yourself in meetings with a caricature puppet. You can make one with a spare sock and some buttons, or you can shoot the works and have a professional-level puppet made to look like you. Whatever you do, keep yourself off camera and have the puppet speak with your normal voice. Some people may not believe their eyes and think they have cabin fever!
9. Coordinate Efforts to Amuse the Meeting Host
Brainstorm with other team members to bring a little bit of joy to the meeting. Dress alike in white shirts and glasses, have everyone sign on in pig latin, or choreograph a hand-jive flash mob to perform every time the meeting gets interrupted.
10. Achieve Expert Level on Your Favorite Mobile Game
With your laptop in your lap, hold your phone either behind or just below your camera. You’ll look really intense about the meeting topic as you blast the candies and boggle out words for highest ever scores. If you’re on video meetings half the day, you’ll attain expert status in short order!
How do you keep your online meetings interesting? We’d love to hear from you!