The Coronavirus pandemic is well underway, and companies worldwide have adjusted (or failed to adjust) to remote work environments. Group projects, meetings, even casual conversation that used to occur in the office are now taking place over video conferencing apps like Zoom, Google Meet and Skype.
Video conferencing probably isn’t new to most of us. What is new, for most of us, is having to rely on it for the entirety of our business. This comes with all new kinds of considerations. For example: where do you take your calls in the house? It seems like a simple thing to decide on, but is it?
Firstly, you’ll need quiet--somewhere where others in your home are less likely to walk by and make noise. Second, you need a very good internet connection--as near to your router as possible--in order to get high-quality video and audio streaming. You’ll want to place your seat in front of a nondescript background (e.g. a wall, bookshelf, door)--the fewer distractions in your video frame, the more your colleagues will be able to focus on you and what you’re saying.
Here are some extra tips to keep your virtual meetings productive and efficient.
If you’re the host of a call, depending on the software, you may need to be the first one to join. That way, you can let other participants in. It’s also a nice courtesy to be there to greet your participants as they arrive and confirm with them that they’ve successfully joined the meeting.
If you’re not the host, being early is just a good habit to get into. Plus, depending on who else is early, you might even get some valuable one-on-one facetime with an important colleague or client. Or time to chat with a work friend you haven’t gotten to see much of lately.
If it’s the difference between having good and not so good audio quality, it’s best to cut your video feed and save the bandwidth. But if your connection is good, flip on that video camera and let your colleagues see that smiling face. Not to mention, non-verbal cues are a huge part of quality communication, so let people see you.
Lastly, it boosts engagement. Having your face on their screen might discourage others on the call from multitasking while they should be focused on what you’re saying.
Virtual meetings are still meetings. Many of the same courtesies of in-person meetings still apply. If a phone dings, rings, or otherwise goes off during a call with multiple people, it’s not only distracting, but it usually instigates a Clue-style whodunnit until the problem goes away.
If you’re taking the call on your phone itself, be aware that incoming calls might take you out of your current call. And perhaps worst of all - if you’re screen sharing, incoming private messages that flash across your screen can be seen by all.
Video conferencing can feel crowded, especially with more than a few people. Speaking deliberately, and purposefully incorporating regular pauses can give colleagues the opportunity to jump in without speaking over you. Avoid colonizing the airwaves by talking too long, loud, and fast.
Most remote teleconferencing tools have a recording function. This can be very useful for when you want to reference back to things that were said on a call. Perhaps your boss gave you very specific instructions, and you want to make sure you remember them right. Perhaps you’d like to listen back to yourself, just to be certain you didn’t say anything bad.