»Can you see me?«, »Do we want to start?«, »I will share my screen, ok?« – this is more or less how most online meetings start. Technological hurdles – okay. Digital divide – that is fine, too. But starting an online meeting right away, just like that?
There are better ways to get started. In today’s reading tips of the week, we explain how you can get your next remote event off to a cracking start and make sure that all participants are warmed up, in a good mood and paying attention.
Remote Warm-Ups: Break the Ice and Warm Up!
Video conferences can sometimes be exhausting and tedious – everyone working from home has probably experienced this by now. Having appropriate warm-ups or playful elements in between, however, helps to keep participants on their toes and makes it easier to get them into the right mindset and way of working.
Remote warm-ups are particularly helpful in longer workshops or meetings where both creativity and collaboration are required in addition to undivided attention. The following tips are applicable to all industries and can be used at any time of the day – and it does not matter whether it is Microsoft Teams, Slack or Zoom: they work on every meeting platform.
Remote Warm-Ups: Icebreakers
This kind of warm-up is ideal for starting workshops and can break down barriers between participants. Icebreakers also help to move away from different fixed positions within a company since personal information is exchanged and the overall atmosphere is lightened.
Example I: Holiday Photo as Virtual Background
In this warm-up, all participants set a photo of their last holiday as their virtual background so that everyone else can see it. Those who do not have a holiday photo at hand can also use a photo of a holiday destination they want to visit. One by one, the participants talk about their last holiday and what other places they would like to go to. This playfully replaces the awkward small talk in online meetings – and everyone has a nice background afterwards 😊
Example II: Emoji Gymnastics
Quick, easy and fun: emoji gymnastics. Participants take turns posting an emoji of their choice in the chat and the other participants have to imitate this emoji either by facial expression or pantomime. This reduces social barriers between participants and gets them out of their comfort zone. In addition, this helps to loosen facial muscles, which leads to relaxation of the entire body.
Remote Warm-Ups: High Energy
High-energy warm-ups involve physical exercise and help to stimulate thinking if online meetings get a bit bogged down. They are ideal both in the morning and after lunch to get the circulation going again and to boost participants’ energy levels.
Example III: Fitness Party
Everything is possible, nothing is compulsory. All participants switch to the gallery view of their meeting platform so that they can see all their fitness friends. Everyone then hops out of the webcam’s field of vision so that no one is in sight anymore. A participant can spontaneously jump back in front of the webcam and demonstrate a fitness exercise, which everyone else then has to do in front of the camera. Squats, stretching exercises or neck relaxation: there are no limits to creativity. As soon as the first instructor has finished his exercise, he jumps out of the webcam’s field of vision again and the others do the same. Afterwards, someone else can step in front of the camera and demonstrate their exercise. And it continues like that.
This warm-up can sometimes be very chaotic, as there are no rules as to who jumps in front of the webcam first and demonstrates an exercise. However, this is exactly what makes it so appealing. Nothing is funnier than ten people trying to do different fitness exercises in front of their computer screens. Laughing is healthy!
Example IV: The Colour Game
The colour game is very simple and combines movement with getting to know each other. The facilitator of the meeting nominates someone to name a colour, for example red. All participants then have to look for a red object and hold it up to the camera as quickly as possible. If necessary, everyone can tell a story about the object they have chosen. The last person to find something chooses the next colour.
Those who like even more movement can name not only the colour but also the room in which the object has to be found. This makes the exercise even more dynamic and allows participants to take their eyes off the screen for a while.
Remote Warm-Ups with Creativity
If people are to develop ideas in an online seminar, they need brain power. However, brain power is not always freely available. Creative warm-ups that are designed to promote out-of-the-box thinking are a good way to stimulate the creativity of participants. In addition, they encourage participants to take part in the conversation.
Example V: 30 Circles
This is a well-known warm-up. Each participant receives a sheet (in a digital space or by post in advance) with 30 empty circles on it. Within a given period of time, usually five to ten minutes, everyone can let off steam creatively and fill the circles with life, for example by turning them into smileys, bicycle tyres, clocks or whatever. Once the time is up, each participant presents his or her circles. Whoever has filled in the most circles is the champion and wins… Yeah, what does the champion win? Be creative!
Example VI: Storytelling/Storydrawing
Storytelling warm-ups can be very versatile. The important thing is that participants tell a creative, serious, funny or self-reflective story and reactivate their grey matter by doing so.
There are some websites that can help facilitators to stimulate the imagination of participants with the right questions and motivate them to engage in the conversation, for example the tscheck.in generator and Protobot. Various games such as Gartic Phone or Skribbl can also help to stimulate the participants’ brain areas related to creativity.
Our 5 Reading Tips of the Week
Remote Business: Organising Events and Workshops Online [Handelskraft]
Online Warm Ups & Energizers [MURAL]