Do your teams love or hate virtual meetings and events? It’s up to you to make sure these activities are engaging, energetic, productive, and pleasurable for participants. Here’s how.
Team communication has become a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations have turned to videoconferencing technology to keep people connected and engaged. While these interactions can be productive and even fun, they also can be frustrating and burdensome. Read on for strategies to ensure that you and your colleagues use the right videoconferencing technology for the right purposes to get the right results.
There are several options for your videoconferencing needs. Currently, the most popular platform is Zoom, with one million participants every day. However, Meet (Google), GoToMeeting, and Skype are also widely used. According to one source, Zoom is most highly rated by consumers in terms of its ability to support large interactive meeting and stream webinar events. Consumers also like that it includes an analytics portal and presents in widescreen.
If you just need videoconferencing for basic interactions, such as team check-in, multi-participant conversations, and/or social events (for example, virtual happy hours or birthday parties), you might not want to invest in a high-end package or platform with lots of features. If you want to do meetings with sophisticated presentations and visuals, you may want to invest in technology with features such as:
- Access to meeting analytics.
- Easy screen-sharing.
- The ability to record, save, and documents sessions.
- An onscreen whiteboard feature for brainstorming sessions.
- Easy access to live help and/or online chats for technical support.
- Ability to hook up integrations such as Slack and Zapier.
Whatever platform you choose, test your meeting connections in advance and try to create a backup communications plan (such as a conference call) in case there are issues connecting with remote participants.
Make sure that your leadership and teams understand the best practices and etiquette of videoconferencing:
- Everyone should share video and audio.
- Participants should mute their microphones when there is background noise or other audio distractions (such as coughing) or when they won’t be speaking.
- Set and distribute agendas in advance. Make sure anyone presenting slides or other visuals know how to do this effectively.
- Establish cues (such as raising hands) to indicate when someone wants to talk.
- Avoid unexpected “guest appearances” by pets, children, or other family members.
- Everyone should avoid eating or drinking during a call (unless it’s an activity such as a virtual coffee break or happy hour).
- If you are connecting from a laptop, plug the device in instead of counting on battery power.
- Close window blinds so that you are easier to see on video.
- Try to wear neutral, solid-colored clothing and dress for the occasion.
- Have sign-on information, phone numbers, and other relevant information handy in case you get disconnected.
- Be on time and encouraged to stay for the whole meeting.
You may want to schedule regular (weekly) videoconference programs. However, don’t use this format for every interaction. Consider situations where a phone call or text conversation will suffice or even be more appropriate. Particularly during the pandemic, realize that many people working remotely are multi-tasking—working, homeschooling, and/or caring for elderly loved ones. Be considerate of their time and understanding of their challenges.
Ultimately, you can use videoconferencing to stay connected, enable workers to feel more engaged and confident, and help prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation. Just balance this with other ways to communicate and use it efficiently and effectively.