In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, millions of people around the world have unexpectedly found themselves working from home. Video conference calls will, therefore, be on the rise during this coronavirus crisis. However, many of us aren’t digital natives and maybe coming to grips with video calling for the first time. So, here are six hacks that will help you make your next remote meeting a success.
Understanding the Tech
All video calling software – Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype – have the same basic options: a screen-sharing feature to let other callers see what’s on your computer, a mute button to remove sound, and a chat function to type messages to other users. If you’re unfamiliar with these basic video options try practicing calls with family and friends.
Dress up Properly
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you can dress like a slob – from the waist up, that is – so make sure you’re dressed appropriately; pajamas aren’t an option! Zoom allows you to digitally touch up your appearance using technology not dissimilar to an Instagram filter. However, the touch-up option only blurs and brightens your complexion; useful if you’ve got a hangover, but not precisely a digitally rendered suit. Also, be mindful of what your colleagues can see behind you. An overflowing laundry basket doesn’t give the best impression. Try a neutral backdrop, so people don’t get distracted!
Set a Speaking Order
During conference calls, people can’t raise their hands, so it becomes easy to talk over each other, or be too polite and say nothing. You can try a circular order (around the room) to give everyone airtime. You can also try establishing a random order in which you, as the organizer, call on everyone in no particular order. When it’s their turn, participants can either speak, pass or say “come back to me.” If the conference call combines colleagues in the same room as those in remote locations, let the distant ones go first to help them feel more included.
Practice Good Etiquette
You wouldn’t simply scroll through your Instagram feed during a meeting, so don’t do it during a conference call. Make eye contact with the camera as you would in real life. When you’re typing, mute the sound so other participants don’t hear you clicking. Sit forward in your chair when others are talking rather than slumping on your sofa. All these easy actions will show your co-workers that you’re fully engaged.
If some members are dialling in from home and others are at work, be mindful of the people physically absent. Meetings may be weighted in favour of the members in the room; they can interact, exchange looks or understand body language in a way those plugged in from home can’t.
Start on time, always, otherwise you’re encouraging people to come late to the conference call. Even better, don’t allow access to latecomers. Yes, some agenda items may suffer without the whole team being there, however, you only have to do this once before everyone understands you are serious about starting on time. In the future, they will make sure they do!
Try Unusual Start and End Times
For example, “Log in between 9:53 a.m. and 9:57 a.m. The meeting will begin at 9:02 a.m.”. Unusual times are memorable and urge people to calculate (“at 9:45 I’ll open my computer, it will take…”). The result will be a higher likelihood of participants calling in and logging in on time. As the call organizer, stick to weird times for each agenda item as well (i.e., 9:15 a.m. – 9:25 a.m. Questions on the new policy). This tells you are paying attention to and respecting time.
Finally, keep in mind that video calling is like any technology; it’s about how you use it, and remember: if you are watching Netflix instead of working, always put your microphone on mute.
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