6 Ways to Engage Through a Screen
The best ideas and games for interacting with a group online
If you’ve been working from home for several months now, you might consider yourself a pro at interacting through a screen. But are you?
When it comes down to it, a lot of us just do the bare minimum to get by in our meetings. We count down the minutes until we can log off and give our eyes a break from staring at a screen… and then we do it all over again the next day.
While we haven’t found the cure for all your Zoom fatigue, we have found a solution that can transform the way your organization, audience, or team interacts during meetings and events.
Utilizing the chat function to engage a group of people, especially a larger group, allows more people to interact and feel like they’re a part of the conversation. We love to kick off a meeting or event by encouraging the group to utilize the chat, this tends to set the tone for the rest of the time together and makes them feel much more comfortable. And once a group is comfortable conversing in the chat, they’ll be much more likely to unmute themselves and further engage with the group.
Ask a question
One simple way to encourage engagement in the chat is by posing a simple question to the group. Once they start engaging in the chat, make them feel seen and part of the conversation by acknowledging their responses to the group.
Some questions you might try using include:
- Where are you from?
- What’s your favorite meal?
- What’s your favorite hobby?
A good rule of thumb is to follow up after asking the question and get people to share more about their answer.
This or That in the Chat
“This or That in the Chat” is a game our team has played for a while now and is always a hit, because it’s so straightforward. This game gives attendees two options to choose from and encourages them to share their opinions and preferences. Pizza or tacos? Beach or mountains? Carry on or checked bag? These simple questions often get some fun responses that you can use to open up the conversation even more. Be sure to check out this game in our online store!
Main Idea: The chat is a great way to engage a group and make them feel comfortable, especially at the beginning of your gathering.
Having a group turn their video screens on can be a powerful thing, making them feel like they’re actually in the room together, not just on a group phone call. But what if the group is hesitant to turn video on? Let’s face it, while people might have become more comfortable working from home, a lot of people still aren’t comfortable interacting with their video screens on. In the past, we’ve found that icebreakers are a great way to ease a group into doing just that.
This game is always a hit and often results in some fun and surprising moments on screen. You can start out by asking the group to find something simple close to them (usually at their desk), like a pen or water bottle. Each individual can get a point for each item they successfully retrieve. By the end, you can ask them to find something more difficult to find close by (like a pet) and share with the group what they find.
Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
Similar to “This or That” described above, a fun game that utilizes the video (but not audio) on a call is a thumbs up or thumbs down reaction to different options. Ask a simple question to your team and gauge their reactions by asking them to respond with a thumbs up (they like it) or thumbs down (they don’t like it).
For groups looking to go a step further, emoji cards are a great option. We’ve worked with several organizations who have sent cards out to their team with customized reactions on each one, allowing the group to hold up cards throughout their time together expressing a different reaction.
Main Idea: Being on video is so much more than just being able to see people’s faces. Play a game or activity that draws out genuine reactions to engage the group and make everyone feel connected.
When video is not an option, there are still some great ways to have fun with just audio. Clubhouse is one of our new favorite platforms and operates the same way.
Since a lack of video will require you to rely primarily on sound, music is a great way to engage your audience… and who doesn’t love music? In the past, we’ve played a variety of games that draw on music. Blind Karaoke is played by having an individual (or group of people) sing and asking the rest of the group to guess who is singing. “Guess the Song” is even more simple and allows you to play your favorite music, getting people to guess the song and giving points to the correct guesser.
Main Idea: If your group can only have audio on, you aren’t limited in the number of activities you can do, just get creative with it!
Using the poll feature in video chats allows you to ask questions, play games, and hear people’s opinions on different topics. Polls are extremely versatile and easy to customize so your team won’t have to spend a lot of time prepping.
As far as games go, we have played several in the past that you can easily make your own. You can see how well your team knows each other by posing a question and asking them to choose the person it applies to. You can also play two truths and a lie by asking them to vote on the one they would guess is the lie.
Main Idea: Polls are an easy solution to those looking to engage a large number of people and “read the room” by gaining insight into their thoughts and opinions.
It might seem unnecessary to have a whole category devoted to emojis, but there is really so much that can be done with them. Don’t believe us? Here are just a couple ideas:
This icebreaker game has never failed to get a group of people engaged (and entertained) at the start of an event. By giving your audience two options to choose from, you not only get their input but some really fun reasons for why they chose what they chose.
🐶 or 🐱 ?
🏖️ or ⛰️ ?
🍕 or 🌮 ?
Not much effort goes into customizing this game and making it unique to your team and their interests. Check out our version for sale in our online store!
There are plenty of other things that can be done with emojis (see Emoji Cards above!), and if you want to take it a step further, emojis can be used to create some really fun and engaging games for your team.
Use a series of emojis to describe a movie, a TV show, or a song, and get the crowd to guess the right answer. Or even just ask them to describe their current mood using an emoji.
We mean it when we say there is so much you can do when you use emojis creatively.
Main Idea: Emojis can be used to play games, gauge reactions, and interact with your audience. Use them well and use them often!
Playing games with a separate device allows the group to engage even more, and incorporates an element that makes your event or meeting feel less like a typical one. What we mean by using a different device is that if you are on your laptop or desktop for the meeting, you would use a phone or an iPad to play a game with the group. That way, you can interact and talk with the group on screen and play the game at the same time.
Using a Phone
There are some great options for websites that allow people to play these types of games. For a smaller crowd, Jackbox has some really fun, engaging games to play. And for bigger groups, we’ve had a lot of success with Crowdpurr and Kahoot.
Another “separate device” that can be used is a whiteboard or notepad to write or draw on. Get people to write down answers to questions, draw a picture, or keep track of their points using the whiteboard. If you really want to go the extra mile, send supplies to their house in advance so everyone comes to the meeting prepared.
Main Idea: Using a separate device allows for a change of pace from the regular meeting or event your group might have attended in the past and is perfect for playing an interactive game.
Hopefully these creative ideas inspire you to create something unique and fun for your team to engage with. If you’re still struggling to figure out where to start, our YouTube channel is full of valuable information and tons of games that you build out for your audience.
Want all the work done for you? We’ve made your life even easier by creating a database called the Game Library, full of all of our games, including instructions, templates, and all the other resources you might need to teach and play the activities for yourself.
The possibilities are truly endless. Now is the time to think for your team and engage with them like you’ve never done before.