What are some ideas on team building/marketing that can be done via an online meeting?

My architecture company has four offices and we meet weekly using a web-based meeting program. It’s my responsibility to host the next meeting but I am looking for something fun/creative to do in the area of marketing/team building. It’s a challenge because the people attending the meeting are not all physically in the same room. I want everyone to leave the meeting with a better understanding/buy-in of how they can be part of marketing the company.




My Answer:




Here's a few ideas you might find helpful:
  • Watch a Video Together and then Discuss

    Find an inspiring video about marketing or customer service. The Simple Truths website has some great short inspirational videos for a low cost - check this one out:



    Each office could watch the video in its own location, and then you could have an online 'discussion' afterwards.

    I've used a video as a meeting starter with one of my own teams, and it's amazing how a video can change the energy of a meeting and be uplifting or thought-provoking. I'm thinking it could be a great starter for a team discussion about marketing ideas for your firm, or even the launching point for a team activity like the ones below.




  • Clarify team goals, brainstorm ideas or increase recognition of work well done

    In my opinion, sometimes you are better doing team building in an office or meeting environment without telling people that's what you're doing! Teams function better, build trust and get to know each other through sharing ideas and clarifying goals, and you can encourage this in a few simple ways without the resistance that sometimes arises if you tell people you are going to do some team building.

    There are lots of ways you can get creative with this. For example, you could go around the group and get people to finish sentences like:

    • My most positive interaction with a client was...
    • I think new clients choose our company because ...
    • A story I once heard about why a client liked working with us was...
    • Our office's most successful client event was ...


    Or ask people to come prepared to tell a story about positive feedback for one of the team members in terms of how they marketed the firm or delivered great customer service. Recognising achievements is important to reinforce team feelings and increase buy-in.




  • A team building exercise that suits virtual teams...

    And my final idea ... this exercise is perfect if you want an actual team building game or exercise that works when people aren't in the same location together.

    (I'm assuming your web-based meeting program allows you to show things to each other via webcam.)


    I've heard two variations of this exercise.

    I've personally participated in the second one and found the result very interesting:



  1. Paper Tearing Game

    Give each person in the group a sheet of 8.5 by 11 inch paper, including yourself. Instruct the group to close their eyes and follow your directions without asking questions. Tell them to fold the paper in half and tear off the upper right hand corner, then in half again to tear off the upper left hand corner, and last, fold it in half one more time to tear off the lower right hand corner. Once done, ask them to open their eyes and look at the papers.

    It is likely that no one will have a paper that matches yours. When asking the team why their papers do not look like yours, they will observe that they were not allowed to ask questions and that they interpreted your instructions differently. This illustrates the need for two-way communication in the workplace. You could follow this up with a discussion about working together as a virtual team, or about the need for clear communication with clients.


  2. Draw This

    Each person will need a notepad and pencil or pen.

    Spread the team out so that nobody can see another persons paper. Ask that everyone draw exactly what is said. The facilitator (you?) would then describe how to draw something....a house could work well for an architectural firm like yours but don't tell them what it is! Example: Draw a triangle in the middle of the paper, draw a square underneath the triangle, draw four rectangles inside the square and one rectangle on the side of the triangle.

    Once everyone is finished, show them a picture of what you were describing (you could have one pre-prepared so you could quickly show them online). Then ask everyone to show what they have created.

    Review: This can be a really fun and eye-opening exercise. It shows how everyone interprets what they hear differently. You may say one thing, but someone else may understand what you said completely differently from what you intended.





So that's a few ideas in response to your question ... I hope you find them helpful.

If any other readers of this page have other suggestions, please share them by adding comments below.

Good luck with your next meeting,
Alison, Team Building Bonanza.

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