You zone out for the umpteenth time to the sound of your dead-pan colleagues reading off their to-do lists. You think “God… work hours are getting longer… but we’re not getting more things done.” We know how this feels – virtual meetings are a pain, for good reasons.
This is how a video conference usually goes for many of us:
- You set a time to discuss with your team members.
- Everyone goes online at different timings and wait for the host to start the call.
- Once everyone is on… then some of you will start to break the ice by making some small talk.
- Then the team leader would start leading the call. People will be reading off their to-do-lists. As everyone rambles off their tasks, you’re bored and zoned-out because… you don’t exactly need to be there.
- From time to time, the audio breaks up and you lose the flow of your discussion.
- When the call finally ends, you find yourself thinking what was the point of the whole call anyway… for you get no clarity out of it.
Worst of all… if you’re working in different teams you’d find yourself having to check-in to different video conferences out of formality. (even though you don’t need it).
As the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, countries are enforcing lockdown and businesses have to collaborate online. This affects internet bandwidth worldwide. This also disrupts our call quality which in turn affects our productivity.
Let’s face it: Video-Conferencing done wrong – is a major energy and time sucker. And this is why we want to address it. When done right, video conferences can help ensure smooth business continuation for companies. Hence, this is why we want to help you better facilitate video meetings.
Without video conferences, it might be tough to work together. Simply because it’s difficult to align you and your teammates on who-does-what. You’ll experience people are not sticking to deadlines, unclear of what to do next or worse- completely missing-in-action.
In this post, we’ll explain a few simple tips on how to conduct more effective video conferencing calls.
First of all, it might be a good idea to standardise on one video-conferencing platform. This ensures everyone has clarity on which app they should use. At HighSpark, we use Zoom or Workplace call because it’s tailored for remote teams. (it is intuitive and user-friendly).
Do an AudioVisual Check
Starting off, it would be useful to do an audiovisual check to ensure everyone can hear each other.
Once everyone is online, you can encourage your team members to say a short greeting so people can hear and see each other. In case of poor network connectivity issues, use a set of hand signals when you want to speak during the call so that you won’t be interrupting others.
For example, a closed fist represents you would like to speak soon and a “T” signal shows you would like to excuse yourself. Hand signals allow you to express yourself without disrupting others.
The use of gestures helps to reduce interruptions which create better team dynamics. This can improve the working environment for everyone and help communication flow better.
Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking
Another tip is to mute your microphone when you’re not speaking.
This helps to minimise any unwanted noise which allows the speaker to focus better. If you mute your mic, you can use the chat function to take notes since your typing will no longer be distracting.
Then, create a simple set of rules for all video calls with your team.
- No eating/drinking
- No loud background music
- Being 5 minutes early.
Simple rules can maintain a sense of work discipline (which can be difficult since everyone’s at home). This will also help to keep your team on the same page so that discussions can flow well. If you are the team leader, we recommend you to set an example by following the rules all the time. This keeps your call focused and efficient.
Keep it short
Now, the work discussion has started. A good tip to keeping your team focused is to keep everything short and simple.
You can achieve this by:
- Making an agenda for the meeting,
- Giving out tasks to your teammates or
- Inviting the key people involved in the call.
- Setting a fixed duration for the call to keep discussions short and focused. (Zoom offers a function where the host of the call can set a fixed call duration which forces the participants to speak succinctly.
Visual guides such as Powerpoint or Keynote are good tools to express ideas. They help make your presentations interactive which keeps your teammates more engaged.
One bonus tip is to lift the spirits of your team through little games and quizzes during the break! This not only makes the meetings more fun but also more memorable.
Give a summary
Remember the notes you took using your call’s chat function?
This is where they come in handy. Before ending your call, it is a good habit to round it off with a summary of the discussion and propose areas of improvement for future calls. Your summary should list only the key points covered.
This is extremely important for longer discussions. Lastly, you could start scheduling the next meeting so your team members will have ample time to plan their schedule.
That’s all for now, we hope you enjoyed and found this article useful!
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