30 activities you can use on Zoom

Published by Jackie Barrie on

I’m currently preparing an interactive keynote for PSA South East where I’ll demonstrate 30 things you can do on Zoom to engage your audience and embed the learning.

This means, if you host weekly meetings, you can do something different for over six months. Or, pick one activity that suits your style, and build it into your repertoire.

It will be the first time I’ve shared some of these ideas publicly. As ever, you can adapt any of them to suit your own objectives. You’ll also discover my seven principles of online engagement, so you can use them to underpin your own online engagement activities.

Here’s a sneak preview of the activities you’ll experience.

  1. Ask the audience to: “Type ‘Yes’ in the chat box if you agree”
  2. Ask the audience to: “Press the ‘party hooter’ reaction icon whenever you hear a word starting with the letter J” (for example)
  3. Run a Zoom poll, such as:
    • Tech check (so you can give the right instructions):
      What device are you using? Desktop/laptop, Tablet/phone, Dial-in
    • WFH (so you can adapt accordingly):
      Do you have distractions or background noise in your working environment today? Yes/No
  4. Share your screen to show a slide or whiteboard that includes a sliding scale, and ask the audience to use the annotate tool and ‘stamp’ where they are along the line. Use this to check understanding before and after your session, for example. Or set up a four box grid and ask them to add their initials in the right box. We do this in our masterminding group, to let the others know what level of challenge and support we’re after that day
  5. Ask the audience to hold up physical signs, such as:
    • Yes (green tick/checkmark)
    • No (red cross)You can buy video conference cards from Amazon to use yourself and/or to supply to your audience
      OR
      You can download my own PDF Zoom flashcards to print and cut out.
      The advantage of my home-made signs is that people who don’t have a printer at home can copy them and draw their own, so they are more inclusive
  6. Ask the audience to raise their hand:
    • In real life (as long as their cameras are on and you can see them all in gallery view)
    • By holding up a physical ‘hand up’ sign (see links in point 5)
    • By clicking the digital ‘raise hand’ reaction icon (as long as you or a co-host keep an eye on this and invite each of person with their hand up to speak in turn)
  7. Provide the audience with a Bingo sheet in advance, customise it to suit your meeting and award a prize to the first person to shout ‘Bingo’ when they complete a row, column or diagonal
  8. Play games based around Articulate, Charades and Pictionary. Get the audience to submit clues in advance, or make your own to suit your learning outcome. (This is an online version of the Game Mashup on page 212 of my Experiential Speaking book.) At business events, this can be used for team-building and to revise jargon or new concepts. At social events, it’s just great fun
  9. Post ‘Do not open’ envelopes to the audience in advance which include all the handouts and props they’ll need. This helps build anticipation, which is the mood you want them to be in
  10. Ask them to type where they are in the chat box, and comment on the answers
  11. Ask them to pin where they are in a Padlet map
  12. Share the whiteboard, and ask them to draw a local landmark for the others to identify where they are. Alternatively, get them to draw their local landmark using paper and a thick pen, and then hold their drawing up to the camera
  13. Prepare a slide in Menti, Sli.do or AhaSlides asking them to rank something from 1-6, for example:
    • How are you feeling today?
    • How would you rate today’s session?
  14. Keep people to time by sharing your screen to display a Countdown-style clock or a timer such as iPadStopWatch
  15. Set up a ‘pet parade’ where people can introduce their animals to the camera – they’ll probably walk in front of the web cam at some point anyway, so you can get this distraction out of the way by formalising it
  16. Get your audience members to draw a pig and hold their drawings to the camera for everyone to see. Search Google for ‘pig personality profile’ to interpret the drawings (or see page 38 of my book)
  17. Get the audience to contribute their favourite ‘getting to know you’ questions in advance, and them pick them from a hat to be answered in turn (see Questions in a Hat, page 62)
  18. Use a poll, Menti, Sli.do or AhaSlides to run a multiple-choice quiz that checks their understanding of your topic (see Pub Quiz on page 148)
  19. Run a ‘show and tell’ treasure hunt / scavenger hunt where the audience has to find an object in their house that relates to your theme, and then talk about it
  20. Use Wheel of Names to pick a random ‘lucky dip’ prize winner, or to vary the order you’ll cover your topics (See Pick a Card contributed by Alan Stevens on page 226)
  21. Play a ‘Higher/Lower’ guessing game, such as when revealing weekly departmental results (see page 157)
  22. Get the audience to commit to a Yes/No answer by turning their camera on or off to show agreement or disagreement with a statement. When you do this, it’s best if everyone has set their view to ‘Hide non-video participants’ – you’ll probably have to give instructions explaining how to do this)
  23. Play a copyright-free sound effect, jingle or musical sting to surprise the audience, set a new mood, and introduce a new segment of your session
  24. Set up your virtual backgrounds with headlines (note that the text on the original images will need to be mirrored as they’ll be reversed on Zoom)
  25. Run my popular paper-tearing exercise to embed a lesson about communication channels, or diversity, or the need to ask questions when taking a brief (page 202)
  26. Do my classy and surprising ‘getting-to-know-you’ toilet paper exercise (page 71)
  27. Get people to rename themselves to add their pronouns, hobbies, department name, or years of experience. Use the results to prompt discussions or put people into the right groups in their breakout rooms
  28. Use breakout rooms for speed networking sessions, mini-discussions, or to play games such as ‘Two truths and a lie’
  29. Try the ‘Advanced’ share option to include your talking head when you display a PowerPoint slide. You can also use this feature when you’ve set up a slide with an image that looks like a reception desk, for example, and then you enlarge and move your video it so it appears as though you’re actually sitting behind the desk. If you do this, I recommend you set it all up and share your screen before you admit people to the meeting, then ‘stop share’ when you want to go back to normal speaker view or gallery view. Otherwise, they’ll all see the resizing and moving of the video, which isn’t so elegant
  30. To collect brainstorming ideas and suggestions, set up a Padlet pinboard with digital sticky notes, or try Mural or Jamboard

The event is on Zoom on 4 May and runs from 6pm to 9pm (UK time). When the booking link is live, it will appear here. It will be fast, furious and loads of fun! But don’t worry, you won’t be forced to join with anything you don’t want to do.

I hope to see you there.


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