We’ve all been there. Dogs barking, loud echoes, and background noise from children or family seem to have become the norm for your typical social distancing-style video conference. With all the distractions, sometimes hosting a productive video call can be a challenge. Looking for ways to keep your calls effective? Here are our top tips:
1. Set a clear agenda
A scene we’re all familiar with; you’ve finally managed to get a number of stakeholders onto a video conference to discuss an important project. But before you know it, the conversation slowly flows into an unrelated subject. After 45 minutes of conversation, you realise many key areas were not discussed, leaving you in the same position as you were previously. Set an agenda prior to the call, and send it to the attendees well in advance. This helps define the ‘flow’ a little better, and ensures no areas are missed or forgotten.
2. Make sure you have a strong internet connection
Noticing your Wi-Fi occasionally flickers on and off? It’s better safe than sorry when it comes to video conferencing. Some providers have reported internet usage doubling, and with the whole family at home, your home Wi-Fi may slow down as networks become contended. Getting a home Wi-Fi device such as a GigaCube guarantees you can have a reliable connection, without having to battle with other members of the house for bandwidth.
3. Be proactive in spotting technical difficulties
Some video conferencing solutions (like MiTeam Meetings) give you a brief moment before entry to check your input devices to make sure audio and video is functioning correctly, and that you have the right devices selected. Avoid the awkward situation of your laptop still being connected to the Bluetooth speaker a floor away and set aside five minutes to ‘tech check’.
4. Consider using a facilitator for important or large meetings
Sometimes an agenda just doesn’t cut it. Meetings with multiple participants are particularly prone to a strange combination of talking over one another & awkward silences. Use a member of the team as a ‘facilitator’; someone who acts as a referee for the conversation, passing the ‘baton’ so to speak around the virtual ‘room’, guiding the conversation.
5. Choose the right tech
Popular video conferencing technologies have several limitations that it’s good to be aware of when committing to your choice of software. Discussing sensitive or confidential topics? Avoid software with questionable security. Will there be external attendees? Avoid software which doesn’t support browser-based meetings for a better user experience.
6. Create a dedicated space
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from lockdown, is that it feels difficult to get things done when you’re working at the centre of a busy household. Make a dedicated space, free from distraction and noise to give your full attention to audio or video calls. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure your background is work appropriate!
7. Create Follow-up actions
Make sure a list of follow-up actions is quickly communicated and agreed with the team before the call finishes. Sometimes meetings can be good for discussion, but without anything really being accomplished. Make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities by rounding up the call with everyone’s follow-up actions.
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