As a business leader, you’ve probably mastered the art of hosting a meeting in person. But how are your video conference skills? With much of today’s professional workforce going remote, it’s a good idea to get up to speed on best practices for video conferencing.
While many smart policies carry over from in-office to online meetings, there are distinct tips that apply only to the virtual realm.
Here are the top do’s and don’ts of video meetings.
DO research your tech options. Zoom, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, join.me, Webex, Microsoft Teams or Skype—oh my! The choices seem endless. To find the right one for you, focus on the functions you need.
Expecting a high number of attendees? Check how many participants the application allows. Depending on your subscription, apps allow a varying number of participants—with one option going all the way up to 500 people.
Hoping to encourage attendee interaction? Compare screen sharing, annotation, captioning and user interface.
DO practice. You’ve probably seen video conferences gone wrong—child interrupts dad’s BBC interview, roommate walks by wearing no pants or meeting participant fails to turn off the camera while using the restroom.
Why risk it? Get comfortable with your video conference application by first using it with friends and family members. Practice turning off and on the video and mute functions. Check out the lighting, background and noise levels.
DON’T forget the record option. Presenting on a hot topic or new training? Be sure your platform offers recording.
For example, on Zoom, recorded files can be uploaded to a file storage service such as Google Drive or Dropbox, or a video streaming service such as YouTube or Vimeo.
DO make use of the tech features that support your meeting’s mission. Put another way, don’t sacrifice your meeting’s quality by skimping on digital features.
Breakout sessions are a great function for boosting productivity and brainstorming in large meetings. If you’re trying to promote group involvement, get up-to-speed on your platform’s annotation tools.
DO take advantage of shortcut commands. Familiarize yourself with the keyboard cues on your conference platform to help your meetings run a little more smoothly.
Here are hotkeys in three popular video conference apps:
DO lay ground rules. If your team hasn’t spent much time on video conferences until now, it’s a good idea to set expectations. (Even better, show what you expect of your team by practicing what you preach.)
Nonverbal cues make up a large part of communication, which is a good reason to ask that attendees keep their cameras on. Make the organizational preference clear by always leaving your camera on and consider creating a short list of video conference best practices that you share via email or on a corporate chat platform.
Other items of etiquette you might consider adding to your organization’s video conference must-do list include:
- Meeting hosts should introduce everyone during the meeting.
- Focus on the meeting. Avoid distractions, including your phone or emails while on a call.
- Limit your use of the chat function while on a video conference, unless the host of the meeting invites you to do so or you have an urgent query.
- Test all technology (including camera/video, Wi-Fi and screen sharing) before the meeting.
- Come prepared. Hosts should share an agenda and participants should read it.
- Have related materials on hand.
DON’T forget the basics of facilitating successful meetings. Just as with in-person, in-office gatherings, video conferences must have a clear purpose and goal.
Begin with an agenda, introducing attendees and clarifying why each person was asked to attend. Be sure every participant has reference documents—by attaching them to your invitation, emailing them before the meeting or being prepared to share your desktop.
As the host of the meeting, look out for introverts who are trying to speak up. Be aware of staff who are uncomfortable in front of the camera.
End the meeting with a summary of key takeaways and next steps as needed.
DO build a sense of security. Whether you’re a meeting host or participant, you can contribute to a feeling of encouragement and well-being. Allow space for attendees to share concerns, questions and learning. Reply with curiosity and open-ended questions.
DO make time for casual interactions. Camaraderie and connection is particularly important in these unprecedented times. Just a few minutes of personal interaction before kicking off the agenda can make all the difference in team building and engagement.
Another way to strengthen culture among your team members is by scheduling a recurring, open meeting on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons. Some leaders find daily huddles work well. Simply set up the meeting and encourage colleagues to drop in if they can to catch up on non-work topics.
With video conferencing quickly becoming a critical part of our work day, be sure to make the most of the technology available and explore new ways to promote teamwork and culture in the virtual realm.