This pandemic has thrown a wrench in every area of our lives, including work. Working at a company that strives to collaborate together in person, I felt especially disconnected from my teammates.
After a month or two and approximately one million Zoom calls, I realized many of my teammates had the same feeling. So I started brainstorming ways to continue to stay connected as a team. And thus, the team talk show was born.
I had three main goals for our talk-show-style meetings:
- I wanted to help everyone feel closer and get to know each other a little bit better.
- I wanted to keep it informal so it didn’t feel like just another meeting in a sea of meetings.
- I wanted to have a fun, sincere conversation with my teammates to keep me energized.
Each talk show involved two conversations between myself (as the host) and a teammate (as the guest). The first ten minutes of each conversation was reserved for dialogue; then I opened up the floor to questions from the audience. The whole meeting was thirty minutes — short and sweet — to keep everyone engaged.
I intentionally scheduled our talk shows near the end of the day so everyone could shut out other work. Also, I encouraged guests and the audience to bring an adult beverage or a mocktail to encourage a lighthearted mood.
This format below worked well for our team. I’m sure there are tweaks that would improve it for other situations.
The goal to keep things informal had to carry through to the content. I also didn’t want the event to feel like a job interview (hence using the terms host and guest).
I opened each conversation with a couple of very high-level, job-related questions as background. For example, I might ask how long the guest has been with the company and if they had a favorite past project.
Then I led the conversation toward things that the guest was interested in. A few days before each talk show, I’d reach out to my guests to gather a few topic ideas. If I’d worked with them for a while, I might make a few suggestions to prompt more. For example, one person’s topics might be cooking, traveling, playing volleyball, and gardening. The important thing was to not make doing the talk show feel like a chore.
It was also very important part to ask open-ended questions that drove the conversation forward. I wanted the conversation to be about them, so I only spoke enough to relate to their experiences and segue to new topics.
So far, the team really seems to enjoy our monthly talk shows. They’ve told me it’s a great way to learn about their teammates and discover similar interests. The guests have enjoyed it as a way to share interesting things about themselves. Lastly, I loved being the host; it’s given me a chance to stay connected to my team and grow relationships with new teammates.
If you try talk shows, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience.