COVID-19 took so much away from us. But this blog will focus on one thing it has given us: video conferencing.
Yes, of course, it was around before. But my 65 year old mother was not using it to have happy hour drinks with her friends. And my 5 year old nephew wasn’t using it to show me his painting for the Letter A Day. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Web X and so many others are now a household necessity. And a business necessity!
Business Best Practices for Video Conferencing
Because it is now expected that everyone is using these video conferencing platforms, if it is new to your company, there are a few things to consider.
First, remember that people on your staff are going to be at very different levels of comfort and know-how when it comes to these technologies. Not only do you need to be sensitive to this, but you may want to do a quick survey of your employees. For those that are uneasy, make them a tutorial video and have some short practice sessions available for them. This way they are not intimidated or uneasy on their first virtual meeting.
Before the first virtual meeting be sure to tell your staff what is expected of them when they are on a video conference. Here are some ideas:
Mute your microphone if you are not talking. This is helpful in eliminating any background noise- the neighbor's dog barking, someone cutting the grass…
If you want your meeting to start at 9am sharp, schedule the video conference to start a few minutes early or accept that it will start a few minutes late. People will need time to log on, get their mics turned on and adjust their cameras. Also, especially the first time, people will want to make commentary about the experience.
Ask people to test out their backgrounds and lighting before the meeting.
Come up with and share a plan regarding who talks when. It is a little harder on a video chat to pick up on the body language that tells the group someone is waiting to talk. Most of us do not raise our hands at staff meetings, but somehow we rarely all talk at the same time. On video chat, people often talk over each other. Set up a procedure to reduce this. Most platforms have tools to help with this.
Use the tools of the platform
Most platforms have a variety of tools that makes video conferencing more dynamic. Be sure to look into these.
Share your screen: this will allow you to show presentations among other things.
And don’t just share your screen, have others share theirs.
Chat feature: this allows people to ask questions or make comments without having to talk. If it is commonplace within your company that when someone is giving a presentation or talking, it is ok to ask a question in the midst of it rather than waiting for the end, you will probably want to change that norm during conference calls. Using the chat feature is one way.
Mute everyone: as the organizer of the conference many of these platforms allow you to mute everyone. This is useful during presentations or with a group that is having a hard time getting the hang of taking turns talking.
Record the meeting: while privacy is probably not expected during these meetings, you should still tell the team if you plan on recording the meeting.
Be the teacher you wish you had
There is so much to learn during these new times. But remember, people have a harder time learning under stress. As a leader, it is important to set the tone. As you push your employees to try new things, be sure to follow the traits of a good teacher:
Give feedback often
Start with their strengths
Build new skills on top of existing skills
Model new skills
Let them practice new skills
Humans like to learn, but survival is most important. It is hard wired in us. When our bodies and minds are stressed, everything else is secondary. Do what you can to eliminate the stress of your employees.