We are all being forced to use video conferencing for all meetings and catch-ups during the COVID-19 lockdown.
For some of us this is a new and strangely scary thing. But for now, we have no choice and after all this is over, we may find we are working from home far more.
But there are a few things you can do to make these conferences run better and be more productive.
1. Check the technology is working before you start
Unless you invest in expensive headsets with noise cancelling features make sure all users understand that their microphones pick up everything in the background. If you are not actually speaking, try to mute yourself. But do remember to unmute when you want to speak, or you just think people are ignoring you.
The webcam can be very revealing if not positioned correctly. Try to make sure you are looking into the camera rather than people seeing the side of your head, check the lighting so you are not in complete darkness. Sadly, some laptops have the camera at the bottom of the screen, so people are just looking up your nose. Either sit back a bit or tilt the screen up as much as possible or order a cheap USB webcam you can mount on the top of the screen.
Also remember to check what’s behind you and maybe let others in your house know you are on a video call. Popping in to pick up a T-shirt whilst half naked isn’t always the best way for your partner or kids to meet your colleagues.
2. If possible, try and limit the number of attendees
Video Conferencing with or without video is difficult to get used to. Try limiting the number of people in the call to those who need to be there. Having more people creates more noise and means it possibly will take longer.
3. Have a structure (and stick to it)
It's very easy for video Cconferences to be treated as if they are the same as face to face meetings. They really are not.
Make sure someone is in charge and running the meeting. Create an agenda and share it with everyone (Microsoft Teams is great for this). Let everyone have a few minutes to chat and get that out of the way. Then start the meeting and stick to the agenda.
It all sounds straight forward but multiple people talking just doesn’t work online. People want to get their point across and if they were face to face, they would just get louder to be heard. In a video call that just becomes awful noise.
4. Make time for some lighter moments
When we are in the office, we often have quick 5-minute chats with people either at our desks or in the kitchen. Whilst we are all working from home this isn’t possible. Make the effort to call people for a quick chat, especially ones who you don’t have communication with during the meetings.
Maybe have a company chat once or twice a week or arrange to chat over a virtual lunchtime. Losing touch with colleagues is sad and hopefully when this is all over and we are back in the office we will all start again. But in the meantime, make the effort and make a call.
As a Director of Optima Systems Ltd Jay is responsible for overseeing Sales and Marketing, Human Resources, Customer Relations and Account Management. In addition, Jay is responsible for the design, development, efficiency and smooth running of the IT Networks of our clients, as well as our own technical infrastructure. More about Jay.