The concept of video conference calls has been around for quite some time now, but until the recent COVID-19 pandemic they never really saw the meteoric rise in popularity that they are now experiencing. Thanks to freelancers, consultants, and executives, there are plenty of well-established applications out there to use such as Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams.
However, just because the technology has been available for some time does not necessarily mean that the majority of the population knows how to effectively use it. Use the following tips to take your virtual meetings to the next level and get the most out of the technology available to you.
Lay down some ground rules
First and foremost you will need to consider making some ground rules. In-office buildings there is almost always a code of conduct that employees have to follow, this ensures that they act professionally at all times and ensures work will get done. Since most people will now be working from home, it is very possible, if not likely, that at least one member of your meeting will forget they are still in a work environment and need to behave as such.
A shortlist of ground rules forwarded to any participating members can help to prevent distractions and keep everything moving forward smoothly. Bear in mind that even with these ground rules it takes some time for people to adjust to the new way of working, so be lenient at least at first.
Make an agenda
Meetings have a tendency to get side-tracked, where the group will fixate on a different topic for a certain amount of time and forget to stay on topic. The chance of this happening when people are in their own living rooms or home offices is exponentially increased. Therefore, to avoid being taken off course for whatever reason may occur, we advise that you create an agenda that you can refer to throughout the meeting. This agenda can be time-sensitive if you like, but it should at least include the following.
- The reason for the meeting
- The topics you wish to discuss
- The overall goal you want to achieve
You can also consider forwarding this agenda to any invited members along with the ground rules to both help people prepare for your meeting, and to ensure everyone has a copy and can keep things moving forward.
Prevent distractions when possible
In general, meetings are typically fairly boring affairs. Regardless of how engaging your speaker may be, depending on the topic there is a high chance that people will get distracted and start daydreaming. Just like with our previous points, when in the comfort of your own home it is very easy to get distracted and simply let your mind wander.
This is only made worse by the fact in a video conference call, each member has a glimpse inside the homes of their co-workers, causing potential distractions from just being nosy, or even by having people walk around behind. Hello Backgrounds virtual background integrates directly with applications like Zoom and allows you to keep your meeting distraction-free. These virtual backgrounds are also great if you want to hide sensitive information behind you or even if you simply have an untidy house that you do not want to display to co-workers and clients.
Keep everyone engaged
The key to a successful meeting is keeping people engaged and interested throughout the presentation. While this can be a challenge, fortunately, there are plenty of tools available at your disposal to make your life easier and your meetings more interesting. A few ideas include:
- Creating a short quiz that goes over whatever was covered in the meeting, this will not only help people to remember what was discussed but also allows you to see how much they were paying attention.
- Use polls to clarify opinions on certain topics.
- Cut the meeting up into smaller chunks. Keeping an otherwise long meeting split up into a few shorter ones helps to prevent people from getting bored and distracted, and is even more important to avoid the new phenomenon known as ‘Zoom Fatigue’.
- Use games like hangman to keep things fun, or take plenty of breaks to help participants stay fresh and alert during the meeting itself.