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Interactive Virtual Meetings: 10 Creative Tactics to Boost Participation

February 6, 2024
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Boost engagement in your virtual meetings with 10 creative tactics for lively online participation. This article covers interactive video conferencing strategies to energize attendees. Learn easy ways to make online meetings and training more collaborative and fun.


In today's digital age, virtual meetings have become an integral part of our work and communication. However, ensuring that these meetings remain engaging and interactive can be a challenge. No one wants to be a part of a monotonous online gathering that feels like a one-way conversation. With the right strategies and optimization, virtual meetings can become engaging and interactive experiences that foster strong connections.

The best online meetings allow attendees to contribute actively through discussions, collaborative work, and meaningful connections. This fosters strong engagement, ideation, and relationship building.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore 10 innovative ways to inject interactivity into your video conferences, training, and events. These tactics promote lively participation, imaginative thinking, and lasting retention.

Let’s dive into each approach:

1. Energize with Icebreaker Activities

Starting your meeting off right sets the tone for active participation throughout. But openers like awkward hellos or cursory agendas don’t spark much excitement. 

That’s where virtual icebreaker activities come in handy for lively meeting kickoffs. Icebreakers provide a fun way for attendees to get to know each other before diving into serious work. 

Some quick suggestions:

- Virtual scavenger hunt – Give attendees 2 minutes to find odd items around their workspace like a stuffed animal or hat. The most unique item wins!

- Two truths and a lie – Each person shares 3 “facts” about themselves and the group guesses which is a lie. 

- Show and tell – Have each attendee show off their favourite mug, gadget, pet photo, etc. and share why it’s meaningful.

- Desert island questions – Pose silly “what if” scenarios like which book they’d bring if stranded on a desert island.

- Storytime – Prompt attendees to share funny childhood stories or memorable life moments.

The right icebreaker warms up the group's energy and personalities, paving the way for active engagement in the rest of the meeting.

More information about these activities and can be found here

2. Gather Quick Feedback with Polls 

Soliciting rapid input from your attendees keeps them alert and involved. Online polls provide an easy avenue for real-time feedback during meetings.

Tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting have built-in polling features. Dedicated services like Poll Everywhere, Mentimeter, and Slido also integrate polls into most video platforms.

Some tips for effective polling:

- Craft poll questions that relate directly to your meeting topic and desired outcomes. Asking irrelevant questions is a waste of time.

- Keep poll response options concise yet specific, usually 2-3 choices max. 

- Allow at least 30 seconds for attendees to respond to each poll so results reflect true input.

- Consider making polls anonymous so attendees answer honestly, especially for touchy topics.  

- Share back poll results and give attendees a minute to discuss implications. Don’t just hurry past it.

Sprinkling just a few quick polls throughout your meeting keeps people attentive, and involved, and their perspectives valued.

3. Spark Discussions with Chat Features

Don’t overlook the chat window as just a sidebar for tangential conversations. Your meeting chat can provide a dynamic channel for questions, comments, and feedback from attendees.

Pose discussion topics and prompts in the chat and ask folks to chime in with responses. Call attention to relevant chat comments by reading them aloud periodically. 

For small group meetings, have everyone share a reflection, question, or key takeaway in the chat at certain points. The host can synthesize responses to identify themes.

The chat provides a means for attendees to voice perspectives they may be hesitant to verbalize out loud. Pay close attention to the chat and integrate insights back into the broader dialogue.

4. Get Hands-On with Collaborative Documents 

Imagine if your attendees could work together in real time on a living document or presentation during your meeting. Services like Google Docs, Office 365, and Teams enable exactly this through simultaneous editing and commenting.

Rather than just discussing ideas abstractly, collaborative documents allow groups to co-create content actively. Break attendees into small groups and have each work on their own shared file, whether drafting text, building slides, or manipulating data. 

The ability to add comments also sparks valuable discussion of changes in real time. Then have groups present their work product and receive feedback from the wider team. 

Surprisingly few meetings tap into the power of real-time document collaboration. But it brings creative ideas to life and leaves attendees invested in the output.

5. Unleash Creativity on Virtual Whiteboards

Open up new possibilities for imagination and innovation with virtual whiteboard apps. Platforms like Miro, Mural, Stormboard, and Microsoft Whiteboard provide infinite canvases for visual thinking and co-creation.

Whiteboards enable attendees to sketch concepts, diagram processes, brainstorm ideas, and visualize connections as a group. You can also use screen sharing to turn drawing/annotation software into an interactive workspace.

Follow these best practices for engaging in whiteboard activities:

- Ensure all attendees have editor access to contribute freely, not just view.

- Use different color markers to distinguish each person’s contributions.

- Take digital “turns” to foster inclusive collaboration.  

- Export and share the final whiteboard with the team after the meeting.

Visual thinking on whiteboards brings meetings to life and unlocks creativity rarely achieved through discussion alone.  

6. Break into Smaller Groups with Breakout Rooms

It's easy for meetings to become dominated by a few extroverted voices. Breakout rooms help amplify perspectives from quieter attendees in smaller group settings.

Most web conferencing platforms like Zoom, Webex, and GoToMeeting enable breakout rooms with just a click. Attendees are randomly assigned into groups of their choice to work together. 

Give each breakout room a purpose like discussing a case study, troubleshooting an issue, or brainstorming ideas on a topic. Ask groups to appoint a notetaker and spokesperson who will summarize the group’s work upon return. 

Set a time limit and provide warnings when time is almost up. Reconvene and have each group’s spokesperson share takeaways with the wider team. Mix up groups between breakouts to gain new insights.

Breakout rooms spur rich small-group dialogue that gets lost in larger meetings. Take advantage of this built-in tool for greater inclusion and diversity of thought.

7. Energize and Connect with Meeting Games

Sitting and listening for hours can dampen anyone's mood and energy. Quick games and activities during meetings provide a welcome break while sparking fun interactions. 

Examples include virtual scavenger hunts, Pictionary with screen sharing, creativity contests, trivia games, digital charades, and more.

Keep instructions simple and tie the content back to your meeting goals. Ensure activities allow for equal participation. Maintain a reasonable time limit for each so the agenda stays on track.

Momentary levity opens communication, strengthens social connections, and leaves participants re-energized for concentration. Fun fosters engagement.

8. Spotlight Attendee Talents with Lightning Talks 

Tap into your team’s unique passions and talents by integrating lightning talks into your meetings. These are 5-10 minute short-form presentations by individual attendees on topics they select. 

Lightning talks showcase interests beyond an attendee’s formal job role. Imagine hearing mini-sessions on hobbies like gardening, travel adventures, baking mastery, pet training, volunteer work, arts and crafts, and more from your own teammates!

These talks reveal new dimensions of your colleagues. Let attendees sign up in advance to prepare their quick presentations. Draw connections between their chosen topics and your organisation’s mission for maximum impact.

9. Plan Pre- and Post-Event Engagement Activities

Don’t restrict interactive elements just to the live meeting itself. Creative pre- and post-event activities maintain attendee energy and connections.

Examples include:


- Personality questionnaires to share results during icebreakers

- Polls to gather input that informs the agenda  

- Reading or videos to set the context for the meeting


- Post-event surveys to collect feedback

- Meeting recap emails and highlights

- Follow up collaborative docs for ongoing work

- Share takeaways and next steps

Bookending your meeting with two-way dialogue makes attendees feel heard before and after the live session.

10. Evaluate and Improve Your Approach 

Don’t settle for one-size-fits-all interactivity. Regularly experiment with new formats and assess what resonates best with your audiences. 

Solicit open feedback from attendees on the most and least valuable interactive elements. Ask which new activities they would like to see integrated.

Aim to incorporate 1-2 new approaches per meeting and gauge the response. doubling down on what works well and phasing out what falls flat. 

Ongoing improvement ensures your meetings stay fresh, evolving alongside attendee needs and preferences. The most impactful meetings place engagement at the core.

Key Takeaways on Driving Virtual Meeting Engagement 

- Interactive meetings outperform passive, one-way presentations on all fronts - comprehension, participation, relationship building, and fun!

- Tactics like polls, discussions, games, and breakout rooms give attendees an active role rather than just being idle observers. 

- Collaborative documents, whiteboards, and projects allow people to co-create shared deliverables together.

- Pre- and post-event activities sustain energy before and after live meetings.  

- Regularly evaluate new formats and double down on what works best for your attendees.

Next time you host a video call, training, or virtual event, try adding one new interactive element. Watch the energy and engagement soar! Audience involvement makes all the difference in productive, memorable virtual meetings.


What if some attendees are hesitant about interactive activities?

  • Start with low-pressure interactions like polls and chats that allow anonymity.
  • Set expectations upfront that activities are optional but encouraged.
  • Offer a mix of introvert and extrovert-friendly options.
  • Lead by example and participate in yourself to show it's a safe environment

How much time should be allotted for interactive elements?

  • Limit activities to 5-10 minutes each max so the agenda stays on track.
  • Try to include an interactive component every 15-20 minutes as attention spans wane.
  • Keep the meeting structured, but allow flexibility in the schedule for organic interactions.

Are games appropriate for meetings or should they be avoided?

  • Well-facilitated games can be highly effective for energizing teams and making connections.
  • Choose games carefully - they should tie back to meeting goals and allow equal participation.
  • Know your audience - some cultures or professions may not appreciate games in meetings.
  • Allow attendees to opt-out if gaming does not appeal to them.

Should meeting interactivity be just for fun or linked to business objectives?

  • Strive to make activities both engaging and purposeful by tying them to meeting outcomes.
  • An engaging game that doesn't serve the agenda wastes valuable time.
  • Discuss takeaways after each activity to connect it back to core goals.

How can I assess which interactive elements work best?

  • Send post-meeting surveys asking which activities attendees found valuable.
  • Track engagement levels, idea generation, and participation by activity.
  • Rotate different options and see which ones have a noticeable positive impact.
  • Annually re-evaluate techniques to keep your meetings feeling fresh.