Video Conferencing – Suddenly Everyone’s An Expert
As we enter another three weeks of lockdown, methods of communication have never been more in the forefront of our minds.
Communication is my thing, always has been always will be.
People are my thing and the idea of being isolated from friends, family, colleagues, potential clients, clients is challenging enough for someone who thinks they’ve got a reasonable grasp on how to communicate effectively but suddenly everyone’s an expert when it comes to using Teams, Zoom, Skype and all of the other video conferencing applications we’ve had to get to grips with in a short space of time.
There are plenty of people who are sharing ideas on how to use them properly, how to use them effectively but I believe in reality all you need to do is be ‘a bit more you’.
When we look at actors on stage they often appear to be hamming it up, to be overacting but what they are actually doing is working really hard to convey their message to the farthest corner of the theatre. If we look at actors in film or TV the camera is doing most of that work for them, particularly in a close up shot, so the slightest flicker of emotion, disdain or frustration can easily be seen and the same applies to us when we are using video conferencing.
Like many of us I’ve been attending a lot of virtual meetings and some of the things I’ve seen have prompted me to highlight the things we might all want to think about before we dial in to our next virtual meeting room.
Although many of the same rules apply, let’s assume you are running the meeting. It’s your meeting in exactly the same way as if it was in a boardroom, a classroom or a coffee shop. If you have invited people that means it’s your meeting and you set the tone from the get go.
So my advice to you is…
- Show Up
Be there before everyone else arrives. Prepare the room for their arrival, welcome people as they arrive and facilitate small talk just as you would do at any event you had organised. Introduce people and make them feel included and maintain that throughout the meeting.
- Agree some Ground Rules
Explain how things are going to work. Have an agenda. Think about how you are going to make sure everyone has the chance to speak? How are you going to ensure everyone is able to contribute without talking over each other? How do you avoid one or two people dominating the conversation?
- Capture Outputs
As with any meeting there needs to be a reason for it. Be sure to stick to the agenda and agree and capture outputs. If you have a lot of people contributing it can be harder than usual to identify the action points and to whom they are allocated. As a minimum agree some bullet point actions but as an ideal have a note taker listening in or if that isn’t practical consider recording the meeting (with permission) and getting the notes typed up afterwards. You could even do this yourself.
- Time Is Precious
At the moment we are all being pulled in many different directions whilst trying to maintain some semblance of normality in our lives and this inevitably has an impact on our ability to concentrate. This is a great reason to get organised before your meeting. Share documents and encourage people to review them ahead of time to make sure everyone is up to speed. You might find it useful to set a 45 minute limit on a meeting and/or split it with a chance for people to grab a coffee or take a comfort break.
- Remember, we can see you!
You are on a video call. We. Can. See. You. Don’t answer your phone, check emails or leave your desk without excusing yourself and pausing the video output just as you would in a ‘real’ meeting. Remember we can only see what is being shown on the video we have no idea if you have popped to the bathroom, if your child is attacking the cat or if your house is burning down. Remember, as host your role is maintaining the energy and if you look bored to tears it will impact everyone else.
So to summarise, be on your best behaviour and be yourself plus 10% In the words of the Berocca advert, it’s time to be you but on a really good day.