FaceTime, Zoom, Skype. Whatever the platform, chances are you’ve had to video conference at some point during the pandemic. Even Canada’s MPs met virtually this week from their respective homes. While the basics behind video conferencing are relatively simple, there are tips and tricks you can use to make the experience better for everyone involved
1. Dress appropriately
While it may be tempting to fall out of bed and stumble into your meeting in your pjs, your colleagues will appreciate that you took the time and effort to dress for the occasion. Also, while it may be tempting just to throw on a shirt a tie, you don’t want to end up like the ABC reporter who opted for no pants during his appearance on Good Morning America.
2. Choose your background wisely
Make sure you’re aware of what your colleagues will be looking at when they see your screen. Sitting in front of a window will cause an uncomfortable glare behind you. You also may not want your colleagues to see the clutter and chaos in your house. If you’re having difficulties finding the right spot in your house, you can always download free backgrounds to create just the right feel for your meeting.
3. Use the ‘mute’ button
If you’re not speaking, click on the mute button. There will be less static and interference when others are speaking, making it easier for everyone to understand what’s being said.
4. Set the agenda before the meeting
Don’t go into a meeting without an agenda. You wouldn’t do it if you met in person, so why do it virtually? Send out an email with bullet points and attach any relevant documents so everyone is on the same page.
5. Turn off your phone alerts…or just put away your phone
There’s nothing like being in a virtual meeting when suddenly everyone hears a loud “PING!”. Everyone stops to see if it’s their phone. Then there’s the subsequent embarrassed silence while the culprit squints at their phone to see what the alert was for. So either mute your phone, or even better, put it away for the duration of the meeting. Be present.
6. Look into the camera when you speak
While it can be difficult to do, particularly if you need to look down at your notes, you should be looking into your camera so that you are having a “face-t0-face” meeting. Speak clearly and loudly as if you were in a conference so that everyone can hear and understand you.
7. Use people’s names
It’s easy for people to zone out during virtual meetings, especially if there are multiple people on the call. When speaking, be sure to address people using their names. It will jolt them out of their daydreaming and keep them included in the meeting.
8. Practice your active listening skills
Take notes throughout the meeting. Toward the end you can offer a quick summary of the meeting and any important points.
While this is not a comprehensive list, it’s a good place to start. Video conferencing will only become more popular as the pandemic goes on. Try to make it as pleasant and productive as possible.