Let’s rewind the clock to two years ago - would you consider scheduling weekly catc-up calls with your team over a virtual platform? Probably not. But, today Zoom calls are as integral to our collective work culture, as much as that coffee machine once was. With the pandemic forcing the world to adapt a more blended work culture, and remote working becoming the norm, virtual platforms have taken over organisational lives, like never before. Their impact on the global culture can be understood by the sheer number of memes flooding social media platforms, every single day. However, after almost two years of constant zoom calls, virtual happy hours, and innumerable catch-up calls, one question that organisations across the board are struggling with, is the same - How to keep virtual meetings engaging? Or, to frame it differently, how to keep the energy levels of the participants up during virtual calls? Presenting a few key features of virtual platforms that can help spice up mundane office calls : 1. Reactions Usually, the biggest challenge with virtual calls is getting everyone to switch on their cameras. More often than not, people don’t feel comfortable switching on their cameras while working from home. This also severely impacts the engagement level of the overall call. However, the reaction feature of Zoom, and a few other platforms, allow participants to share emojis as their instant reaction. This feature allows people to express themselves freely. Furthermore, they don’t need to turn on their cameras to use it, making it convenient for everyone. Also, with instant messaging apps taking over our day-to-day communication, everyone enjoys using emojis. 2. Breakout rooms A major element that virtual meetings lack, as compared to on-site events, is the ease of one-on-one conversations. Often, during a discussion, different groups need to collect their thoughts before sharing with he larger group. And this is where breakout rooms come to our rescue. This feature allows for cluster seating of participants, even virtually. Breakout rooms can also come in handy, when conducting virtual team activities. 3. Virtual Backgrounds With the lines between home and office getting blurred by the minute, presenting a professional front on video calls has become a challenge. Often times, people find themselves surrounded by family members or even a boring wallpaper which they would rather not present to the rest of their team. This makes switching on their cameras an even bigger pain point. This becomes a challenge when they need to turn their cameras on for important meetings, or one-on-one discussions. However, with virtual backgrounds feature, you can choose to have a customised background. This not only allows the ease of presenting a more neat and professional face in a meeting, but also encourages active participation. Companies can even promote a sense of team bonding and boost team spirit by creating customised backgrounds for the entire team. These background images can also work as an interesting ice-breaker. 4. Polling options Whether it’s a serious work event or a fun, team engagement session - voting is usually a major part of our work life. But, virtually, getting a consensus can pose a huge challenge, especially if the number of participants exceeds 50. And perhaps this very reason prompted Zoom to introduce a polling feature. All you need to do is create a poll and everyone present in the meeting can vote simultaneously, while the results are displayed on the main screen. 5. Video filters Unless and until you have been living under a rock, ( or keep a safe distance from social media platforms ) you must have come across multiple funny videos of people using quirky filters during work calls and getting stuck. And, even though we don’t want you to go viral for all the wrong reasons, video filters can still spice up your mundane calls. Whether it’s a celebration, or you just feel the need to lighten up the mood a little, you can always find the right filter and have fun with your team on the go. 6. Superhero When David Bowie said “we can be heroes for one day,” we were definitely listening. What if you could be anyone you wanted to be, just for one day? With the renaming feature of Zoom, now, you can. Ask your team to rename themselves as their favourite superhero or fictional character. This simple activity can help start fun conversations, enhancing inter-team bonding, and uplift the collective mood of your team. 7. Annotations Virtual meetings run a high risk of disengagement. This is because when one person is presenting, everyone else can easily find themselves distracted by other things that might need their attention. However, with the annotate feature available on Zoom, keeping your team members invested in a presentation becomes an easy job. You can structure your presentation in a way that allows other team members to contribute using words or figures, thereby enabling effective learning experience. 8. Spotlight The wonderful thing about virtual calls is that you can get a host of diverse teams together. But, with such a large number comes chaos and confusion. It can be difficult to keep track of the person speaking at any given moment. This can lead to the participants feeling disconnected or frustrated. To avoid this, you can use the spotlight feature to put the active speakers visible on the main screen. 9. Music The power of music is universal. The right kind of music can help elevate the mood of the entire group. With the music sharing feature available across virtual platforms, it is easier than ever to influence the collective vibe of a group. Just play the right track and soon, your entire team, as the kids these days say, vibing together. Conclusion These basic features are enough to help you make any work meeting come alive with conversations, music, and engagement. And yet, platforms like Zoom are constantly upgrading their UI. Adaptability is key to change management and thus, it is important for organisations to embrace the changing face of team conversations. Impactful collaboration can only be enabled by promoting effective communication. And, with virtual calls becoming the new reality, organisations need to make the best of the technological advancement available at their disposal.