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Small talk, big impact: Connecting in a virtual world

At Karrikins Group we’ve noticed that there is, of course, a sense of video fatigue – Zoom, WebEx, Teams – pick your platform, people are tired of it. And yet, there is a longing for more team connection and the opportunity to chat with colleagues and friends without the formality of a scheduled call.

This incongruent desire to spend less time on a screen while spending more time together is hard to resolve in today’s mostly online world. Harvard Business Review recently posted a great perspective on how to provide some space for small talk (Make Time for Small Talk in Your Virtual Meetings by Bob Frisch and Cary Greene) by leveraging time and space in existing meetings. They suggest being intentional about including time for small talk, creating space to ideate on ‘what if’ type questions, and letting people know when chit-chat will happen are ways to help people create more personal connections without adding more meetings to already packed schedules. 

One of our favorite suggestions is to “introduce agenda items designed around opinions and conjecture.” We like to use a Yes, and… version of that to inject some energy and fun into our meetings:

Ask your team to go around the zoom and respond to an imaginative prompt like building the agenda for a shared vacation, or what you would bring with you on the first manned trip to Mars. As each person contributes, the next person starts with “Yes, and….” to make their own contribution. It is a fun and quick way to spark creativity and to learn about each other without scheduling a separate Zoom ‘connection’ meeting that often feels forced and frustrating for people who are a little burned out on video.

As we come into the one year anniversary of many of us leaving our offices and working virtually, it is a good reminder of how we can fill in the gaps in team connection that many people are feeling.