Remote working appears to be here to stay and with it, video conferencing. Enterprise conferencing apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have experienced record growth, with a 90% increase in downloads compared to pre-COVID-19 averages.
As we embrace video conferencing, it’s important to remember that it’s an entirely different way of connecting than via face-to-face meetings, with its own set of risks, benefits and best ways to operate.
As Quiip have been operating as a remote company for 10 years, we have learned some tips and tricks about making the most of your video call.
Optimise your audiovisual set-up
Lighting and sound are both very important for your colleagues to see and hear you properly on a video call.
If your workspace isn’t video-friendly, you might want to set up a corner of your house just for video calls – you’ll want a quiet space with an uncluttered backdrop and front or side lighting. Natural light is best, but a combination of overhead lights and lamps can ensure you are well-lit. To find the right angle to comfortably show your head and shoulders, you might need to rest your screen on a piece of furniture, stack of books or even a stepladder!
Sound is another factor. Consider minimising outside noise by using headphones with a built-in microphone. This is especially important if you are discussing confidential information. If you host regular video meetings and webinars you might want to consider setting up an external webcam or speakerphone. Muting your microphone when not speaking is good etiquette and stops background noise overwhelming the call.
There’s nothing worse than waiting 10 minutes for video call participants to download the software or play around with their speaker settings. It’s also frustrating if no-one knows what the call is about or what they are expected to contribute. If you’re hosting the call, it’s your responsibility to send a meeting invite to participants with all the details they need to access and participate in the call, from the access link to the agenda and any pre-reading.
If you’re a guest, make sure you are familiar with the software and have given it a trial run if you’ve never used it before. Try to join the call a couple of minutes early to allow some time for any tech troubleshooting.
Keep your calls engaging and on-point
A meeting which would have been long and boring in person can feel twice as long on a video call. Keeping attendees engaged and focused during a video conferencing session is a skill that requires practice. Stick to a tight agenda and aim to wrap the meeting up by 45 minutes if possible – this will keep the meeting focused and allow attendees to gain back time for a quick break to grab a drink or do some gentle stretches before their next meeting. If your session is longer, build in breaks for people to get up and move around, then return to the call.
Avoiding distractions can be difficult when dialling in from home. Ask lots of questions and share meeting hosting duties to keep attendees engaged. If there are multiple issues to resolve on the call you might want to consider breakout rooms to allow teams to problem-solve simultaneously then return to the main call.
When presenting slides, keep them simple and light on words – text can be even harder to read when presenting via video-conferencing. Make sure to pause regularly and ask for feedback. Videos, audio and animation will make your presentation stand out and stick in the memories of a distracted audience.
Community management techniques can come in handy when leading a video call. Make sure people know the house rules of the meeting space – such as a raised hand to ask a question. You might need to repeat the house rules a few times before they become second nature to the team.
Make it fun
In the way that a real-life meeting can also be a celebration or a party, so can your video call.
Making sure that you preserve your workplace culture is important when you transition to remote working. People build rapport with their colleagues by sharing laughs and getting to know each other. Consider adding some workplace rituals via video-call, whether it’s ‘fancy dress Friday’ or an optional team trivia night (Time Out has some great suggestions for how to run one here ).
Maybe you could add some fun to your daily stand-up meeting by trying to out-do one another with clever virtual backgrounds . If you have the budget, delivering tasty treats or drinks to participants to consume during the call will definitely make it seem more like a party.
Ending a video call can be awkward – no-one waves goodbye in a real-life boardroom, after all!
On the other hand, abrupt endings to meetings deprive us of the transitional time of walking out of a room, engaging in chit chat with colleagues and making our way back to our desks.
Allowing yourself the mental space to transition between video calls is important. If you’re the organiser, email participants afterwards with a recap of any action points and a copy of any slides presented. If you’re an attendee, give yourself time to write down any follow-up reminders into your diary and prepare yourself for your next meeting or activity.
To help the team transition between calls and activities we like to do a deep-breathing and centering exercise at the start and end of calls at Quiip. Led by the meeting organiser, this is a mindfulness exercise designed to help settle the brain and provide a moment of peace and clarity. It’s simple – breathe in for six seconds, hold it for two seconds then breathe out for seven seconds. Do this 2-3 times and feel the difference!
With the right preparation and protocols, video meetings can be a team activity to look forward to and a productive exchange of information and ideas, not something to dread.
Need help transitioning to remote working? You can read some of our remote working resources here . Our consultants can help build a safe & effective online spaces for your team with online community tools such as Facebook Workplace, Slack, Yammer and Microsoft Teams. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org u for more information.