Break the Ice, Break the Stress: Making Remote Meetings Fun

You know the drill. Click “join meeting,” watch the webcam flicker on, and hope the faces you’re staring at feel more enthusiastic than you. How is it that 87% of workers report wanting work-from-home flexibility yet most of us dread virtual meetings?
And what’s the cost of boring meetings? Employee disengagement, lost productivity, and poor workplace satisfaction. In other words, there’s reason to want a better virtual meeting experience. The good news is that you can trade your underwhelming Zoom calls for something more fun and engaging. The catch? It might feel a little awkward at first. Read on to learn more about using humor to lighten the mood and how to make the most of your virtual meetings.

Tackling Virtual Meeting Awkwardness Head-On
It’s fascinating how we can transmit faces wirelessly across the globe in real-time, yet we still face challenges in effectively managing conversations during Zoom calls. Additionally, there are moments of profound silence during virtual meetings when the boss requests feedback, and the only response is the echoing void of cyberspace.
But here’s the kicker: It’s not your fault, or even your Wi-Fi’s. Experts tell us that we’re missing out on the super subtle body language and energy vibes that normally happen in person.

The Secret Sauce: Humor and Icebreakers
So, what’s the secret sauce to shaking the stiffness and building a virtual campfire of team camaraderie? According to one professional meeting facilitator, it’s asking attendees an honest question: “What are you wearing on your feet?”
This probably sounds a little crazy, but it’s been shown to work. Why? Because everyone can laugh about the reality of at-home meetings. Some may be dressed from head to toe, others may be barefoot or wearing slippers. And there’s always someone in oddball socks or unexplainable footwear. As it turns out, laughter is more than fun. It’s been scientifically shown to increase team performance.

The Science of Sensible Silliness
Our brains are naturally inclined to relax and foster creativity in the presence of humor. Laughing can be likened to a form of mental exercise for the prefrontal cortex. A calm mind resembles that of a jazz musician—improvising, riffing, and conjuring creative wonders. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t prefer a meeting that exudes the ambiance of a jazz club rather than a dental waiting room?
Supporting this notion, scientific findings suggest that leaders who sprinkle humor into their interactions possess remarkable qualities—motivating, engaging, and even transforming mundane tasks like the quarterly budget review into a more enjoyable experience.

Real Talk: Know Your Audience
A note on cracking jokes: Jackie Colburn, the creator of the footwear icebreaker, reminds us to always consider timing and audience. The idea is to build rapport, so ensuring your icebreaker is appropriate and doesn’t create unnecessary discomfort is crucial. If the group has a relaxed atmosphere and everyone is comfortable with one another, feel free to initiate a conversation and observe how your team responds.

Wrap it Up, Ringmaster!
Next time you’re preparing for another remote meeting, why not start with a touch of inquisitiveness about their choice of shoes (or no shoes)? It could be the lighthearted push your team needs to foster connections, encourage creativity, and energize collaboration.
Until then, keep your meetings engaging, and remember: work is important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves along the way.