With remote working becoming the new normal, video calls are now the main way of having meetings. For some, this comes as a natural extension to an already highly digitalized workplace. While for others, getting to grips with video technology and the associated change of habits has been more challenging. In the future, we’re likely to see video conferencing being used much more widely, for example:
- (keynote) speakers may find themselves presenting to an online audience, rather than the real-life event they had planned for;
- companies conducting job interviews with potential candidates online; and
- university lecturers teaching via video conference.
The list goes on.
In any situation, whether you’re speaking to one person or a thousand, you will always want to give the very best, most professional impression you can.
We’ve gathered a few best practices to help you make the most of your video calls:
1. Get your setup straight
They say that preparation is the key to success, and video calls are no different, wherever you are connecting from. Being underprepared can lose you valuable time, both for you, and for everyone else involved. Checking off every item on the list below before you get started will help you get off to the best possible start:
- Whichever tool you are using, test how to access it and use it before your meeting. Certain features might help you keep your audience’s attention by engaging them in the conversation, so familiarise yourself with chat or Q&A options.
- Having you given your tool permission to use your camera and microphone? Check and check again, so you can avoid an awkward start.
- Think about what everyone will see when your camera is on: keep distractions in the background to a minimum, make sure there’s no backlight and place your laptop in a way so your camera is at eye-level. You’ll be doing yourself, and the other attendees a favour.
- While you don’t have to dress to impress, make sure that at least your upper body is dressed appropriately. Working remotely might allow a slightly more casual dress, but don’t overdo it.
And most importantly ‘Where Wi-Fi goes, success flows’. OK, that’s taking liberties with Tony Robbins’ quote (‘Where focus goes, success flows), but it’s worth paying attention to.
Pick a spot in your home where the Wi-Fi signal is strong, or get a good Wi-Fi booster if you need to be far from your router. Having to repeat things because the audio didn’t match the images is annoying, so do what you can to make sure your connection is fast and stable. Using a wired connection, if possible, will give you the best setup.
Looking for the right tools to use? These 5 tools for working remotely are a great way to start.
2. An agenda is more important than ever
Did you check off all the boxes above? Great! However, your preparation doesn’t stop there.
Having your agenda ready, in clear bullet points, before the meeting starts, is even more essential than in real life. Share the final version with your team beforehand, so they can prepare notes and questions they might have.
Aligning everyone on the purpose and goals of the video call well before it starts, avoids confusion and silences.
Other things to include in your agenda are:
- A time frame: This keeps you from stalling. Leave time after the bullet points for final questions. If it’s your colleagues you’re talking to, this might be the time to share some more personal tips with each other on how to survive the lockdown, for example. After all, these are special times for everyone.
- Roles: Someone needs to take the lead in going over the different bullet points. And just like in other meetings, it’s a good idea to assign one person to take notes. In fact, on a video call, keeping notes is more important than ever – if technical difficulties mean someone misses parts of the meeting, they can easily be brought up to speed afterwards.
3. Summarise and confirm the next steps
If you’ve taken the steps above into account, your video calls and webinars are likely to become more productive and easier to follow for everyone.
However, to avoid leaving the video call open-ended, make sure to summarise the most important things said. Go over the outcomes of the meeting and set action items that need to be completed before the next meeting. Choose an owner per item, so everyone knows what is expected of them.
Not having a meeting? It’s still worth finishing with a summary and a clear call to action. In case of a webinar, your call to action might be to download a whitepaper, buy your product, or to engage their network to sign up next time.
Again, preparation will help you succeed. It will show your audience that you are prepared, organised and in charge.