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7 Ways to Make Virtual Calls and Meetings Feel As Good As In-Person

Tammy Holzer
4 min readMay 12, 2021


Zoom fatigue is real.

Zoom calls require an extra level of energy and attention. They also tend to be very task-oriented, and it takes extra effort to connect with people. This is leaving people feeling drained, fatigued, and disconnected.

The good news is that we can learn new ways to connect online and build an entirely new skill set. Following are some suggestions for you to use on your next call or meeting.

  1. Conduct “Check-ins” at the beginning. This is different than asking “how’s everybody doing?” at the beginning of each call. Inevitably the answer is “good” or “fine,” and doesn’t really engage or connect people. Instead, ask participants to share a few sentences about what’s going on for them personally/outside of work, and how they are currently feeling. You may even give them a set amount of time — like 1–2 minutes so you can have enough time scheduled in the call. Make time for it — it’s valuable. Don’t comment, debate or try to fix what someone has shared — just let them speak. Make this a safe rule for the group. The more you do this, the more people will get comfortable with it and open up more. It’s one of the best ways to build trust within a group. If it’s a large call and you don’t have time to have everyone do this, then spend a few minutes asking everyone to reflect and then post in the chat — and acknowledge several by name, or common themes you might notice.
  2. Ask for a “Little Known Fact.” If you’re not comfortable going too deep with participants on the call, instead of doing a check-in at the beginning of the call, ask participants for a specific “Little Known Fact.” Questions like “what was your first concert?” or “what’s the funniest thing one of your pets (or kids) did recently?” are fun ways to engage people’s good feelings and get to know each other a bit better. For a larger audience, this can be answered in the chat — as long as you read many of the responses aloud. Ignoring the chat defeats half the purpose.
  3. Don’t make calls solely about tasks. Incorporate other things to talk about for a few minutes to lighten the call — like favorite shows they’ve recently watched on Netflix, guilty pleasure of the moment, etc. I used to participate in a weekly call where we all followed one of the Real Housewives shows, (I know…stick with me here) and each week we’d spend a few minutes talking about the latest episode. It was a way for us to bond and lighten the mood, and I found that when we did, we became more engaged with the mundane business aspects of the call.
  4. Keep it real. Everyone has been going through enormous change in one way or another this year. As humans, we instinctively react to change. Allow people to have feelings about what’s happening, and create the space to express them. Don’t ignore big changes happening, not say anything and operate as “business as usual.” Ignoring any elephant in the room hurts morale and makes people feel like they are not cared about. Just simply acknowledging what’s going on is a relief. You don’t have to fix everything that comes up — just be real that it’s uncomfortable. Find constructive ways to validate peoples’ feelings (such as saying “I hear you,” “I get it,” etc.) and let them know you’re all in it together.
  5. Give each person a chance to contribute. Ever notice some people dominate the calls while others stay hidden? Perhaps it’s a matter of extroverts vs. introverts. Whatever the reason, find ways to engage all people equally without calling them out or making them uncomfortable. Rotating leadership of each call to give others the chance to lead and contribute what they feel is important. People want to feel seen, heard, and valued. Ask participants what ideas/information they feel is valuable for the next call/meeting, and perhaps ask them to spearhead.
  6. Have virtual coffee talk / happy hour. What better way to catch up with people, build friendships than an online coffee talk or happy hour? It doesn’t have to be every week — sometimes everyone needs a break from all the meetings. Make it a bi-weekly or monthly event and make it fun. Share drink recipes, food recipes, favorite coffee, or anything you want. Talk about what you’re binging on Netflix. Bad online dates. Your now organized closets (or conversely — the dirty dishes piling up). Whatever. Oh, and it tends to work better if the ‘big bosses’ are not on the call — peers only. Just sayin’. But leaders should encourage and support.
  7. Ask a professional to host. One way to break up the zoom fatigue is to invite outside guests or hosts to engage, connect and inspire. Use a speaker, a comedian, or a musician! Do something cool and have a virtual concert personalized specifically for your group! Check out True Connection Virtual Concerts. These are part inspirational keynote talk, part concert, and part high-wire walking act with crowd interaction, stories, and humor in real-time. They are SURE to engage everyone on your call.

By the way, many of these tools can be used in face-to-face meetings as well. The important thing to remember is to make the effort to connect!

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Tammy Holzer

Creative Writer. Music Journalist. Business Writer. Rock & Alt Music Fanatic. Gen-Xer. Co-Host of Women of Rock.