Video conferencing isn’t a new technological phenomenon by any means; but it has definitely taken on an expanded role as a way of conducting business meetings with the advent of COVID-19 and the restrictions forced upon us as a result of this pandemic.
While in-person face-to-face (F2F) meetings seem to be a blur at the moment, they are sure to come back. In the interim, however, people still need to meet, to connect. They need to discuss and resolve issues. They need to teach, to learn, to motivate.
One way to accomplish this is through what is referred to as “Virtual Meetings.” These “real-time interactions that take place over the internet using integrated audio and video chat tools and application sharing” are done via video conferencing.
There are a number of different virtual meeting/video conferencing platforms. Skype was probably one of the first. Now, there’s Zoom, GoToWebinar, GoToMeetings, WebEx and Google Meet to name a few.
While I am no way an expert on this subject, I am learning. And, as I learn, I want to share with others so that collectively we all become more knowledgeable, more proficient and, hopefully, alleviate (or minimize) embarrassing situations.
(We can talk about a more complex meeting format referred to as Hybrid Meetings at a later date. Hybrid Meetings combine a live-in-person event and a virtual on-line component and for now is “way above my pay grade.”)
In a previous post I shared an article by Bryan Lovgren for “Entrepreneur” on the dos and don’ts of video conferencing that was published in 2017 but still applicable today. Shortly after that, I was interviewed for “It’s a Woman’s World” via video conferencing which under normal circumstances would have been filmed live in a studio. This is where my real learning began.
Until the interview, I had never really given much thought to the production side of the “process.” I knew nothing about staging your space, lighting or sound techniques, or how one might be perceived by others when you’re on camera and haven’t put your best self forward in terms of what to wear or how to do your make up. The women who produced the show walked me through this part of the “process” and have since created and downloaded a “how to” video on YouTube that I found extremely helpful.
I learned that setting up your space for a video call doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it necessarily require a lot of space – just the right space. Even a small corner of a room can/will suffice, if it is free of obstructions and the lighting is optimal.
Think of each session as a potential stepping stone to a new job or career opportunity because you just never know who might be watching and you’ll do just fine.
Another part of the “process” is more technical in nature.
This past fall I sat in on Office Dynamics International’s Annual Conference for administrative professionals.
One of the speakers was Mike Song, CEO | Get Control University, a time management learning center. Mike provided several great tips on how to stop video conferencing glitches before they begin in addition to steps you can take to enhance your audience’s experience.
I, of course, took copious notes and then reached out to Mike and asked if I might share what I’d learned with my followers. He graciously agreed. This is what I learned.
Stop glitches BEFORE the meeting starts.
Test your microphone for audio clarity and volume and your lighting by video conferencing with a colleague or friend prior to your call using the same equipment you plan to use for the call.
If you’re sound isn’t up to par, add a headset.
If you wear a headset, make sure it is positioned far enough from your mouth so you do not give off a popping or scratching-like sound.
Refresh laptop 30 minutes prior to start of program.
Make sure you have a good, strong internet connection by running a “speed test” on Google. (Type “speed test” into your browser and follow prompts.)
Close all unnecessary apps or programs.
Use a laptop stand to elevate laptop to enable you to see eye to eye.
Place a DND (do not disturb) sign on your door to make sure others in your household do not appear unannounced and/or improperly attired while you’re on camera.
During the meeting
Mute your microphone whenever you are not speaking -- even if you’re alone in the room. Even a slight chuckle, gasp or groan from you can make a difference, especially if the session is being recorded.
Unmute your microphone BEFORE delivering your presentation or comments.
If you’re presenting to a corporate audience, posting their logo on the screen as guests are signing in signals to them that you care about them.
If it’s appropriate to the meeting, make sure the “chat box” is activated.
Do a sound check at the start to make sure everyone can hear you. Ask people to respond with a “Y” in the chat box if they can hear OK. (This also gets people involved/ interested.)
Be mindful of the time. A digital clock placed in front of you will help keep you on track.
If you’re on a group call and your presentation is done, “leave the room” so you are no longer “on camera” and open to possible embarrassing situations.
Depending on the nature of the meeting, using icebreakers and/or surveys can be a good way to take the temperature of the group.
Introduce yourself when responding during an open discussion (as your name may not always appear on screen.)
Acknowledge the host when it’s your time to present, before moving on to your presentation by saying something like: --Thank you for the opportunity to ….; or, --I’m pleased to be here with you all today; or, --Good question, Susan.
When you open up an agenda item for discussion, use people’s names to elicit responses to minimize everyone responding at once (talking over one another).
When you’re asked to answer a question or give an opinion, thank the person by name before you begin. Repeating questions before you answer helps to eliminate confusion.
Add a second laptop if you’re presentation is Power Point heavy to better stage documents, see meeting chat, check the agenda and Google questions off screen as they come up.
Share large charts of facts and figures sparingly. Too much information tends to get lost in the translation and it’s easy to lose your audience.
When using bullet points, show one bullet at a time instead of all in one for the same reason as above.
Do NOT check or send emails during a call. STAY ENGAGED! Remember – you are on camera – and people will remember your attentiveness or lack thereof each time they review the call.
There you have it. I hope you’ve found this information helpful and that you will share other tips you might have so that we might all be just a little bit smarter, a little bit more aware.
It’s important to remember that planning any type of meeting whether in person or virtual requires a PLAN and a PROCESS, Goals and Objectives and the right audience, an Agenda, a Timeline or Task List for getting things done, and most importantly, a team of experts to help you execute your PLAN and make you and your organization SHINE – especially when FAILURE is not an option.
Be well. Stay safe. Be kind to one another. Never stop learning.
Mary Jo Wiseman, CMP | Author, “The Meeting Planning Process: A Guide to Planning Successful Meetings” | https://www.maryjo-wiseman.net