Video Conferencing 101

7 tips to make your online conference calls amazing!

It can be nerve wracking doing a video call for the first time, or second… or twentieth!

Some do’s and don’ts complete with a live example of what not look out for..

Here are 7 ways to lead, or participate in, a really positive and productive conference call.

  1. Do video conferencing whenever possible, it is so easy these days and you get to see each other.
  2. Take time at the start to be clear about the objectives of the meeting and check in with everyone.
  3. Really listen and participate in the meeting. Give everyone time to be heard. Don’t speak over other people.
  4. Speak to the camera when you are talking and look at the other participants, ideally with the grid view, when someone else is talking.
  5. Consider the lighting – try to not sit with a bright light behind you creating a silhouette. If it is very bright consider pulling the curtains or lowering the blinds for the duration of the call.
  6. Minimise external sounds – close windows, or doors, if there is noise outside. Use headphones to keep your conversation private and not overheard by other people in the house. Put yourself on mute when you are not talking.
  7. Check in at the end with everyone on the call. Ensure that everyone is clear about the outcomes, who is doing what next and by when. And finally, do a check in with everyone to see how they are feeling at the end of the call.

Expanding briefly on each of these points…

Do video conferencing whenever possible, it is so easy these days and you get to see each other

Initially this may feel strange and it is very tempting to turn the video off… Get over it! It helps tremendously to be engaged when you can see each other.

You do not need to look like a moviestar! We are all human and just be you. Authentically you, just as you are.

Take time at the start to be clear about the objectives of the meeting and check in with everyone

For a few years we had a weekly meeting where the leader insisted that we start (and end) the call with a WIFLE – what I feel like expressing is …… I’ll be honest we used to dread the WIFLE.

But… it did mean that we had the option to let everyone else on the call know where we were at that moment. So if one of the team had been through a really bad day, had a family crisis, was feeling low/elated, etc we all knew up front and were able to address that or be mindful of it during the call.

All good meetings have a clear agenda and start with a check in to see if there is anything else that needs to be added, or if the participants are in agreement that this covers all areas to be discussed today. Even more important with online calls!

Do not speak over other people

A key job of the meeting facilitator is to ensure that everyone gets time to be heard.

You can support this by being attentive and not talking over another speaker. You will get your turn. Be sure to contribute and don’t just sit quietly in the background. If you don’t have anything to say, should you have been at the meeting?

Really listen and participate in the meeting and give everyone time to be heard

Do not get distracted by emails popping up on your screen or other messaging tools. Silence them while you are on the call.

Focus on the participants in the meeting, be proactive and constructive. If everyone engaged fully, and arrived at meetings fully prepared, all meetings would be truly efficient and a pleasure to attend.

Cover the business that needs to be dealt with and then check out of the meeting and get on with the rest of your day. Win : win..

Speak to the camera when you are talking and look at the other participants, ideally with the grid view, when someone else is talking

When we are in a physical meeting with others we look at people as we talk to them. The same applies to video conferencing but you need to remember that the camera is where your audience is :). You do not need to look at yourself…

Set you screen up to show the grid view so that you can see everyone at the same time and be sure that they are all understanding what you are saying. When checking the pulse and for reaction, look at the screen….

When others are talking keep engaged and look at the participants in the meeting – you are on video link so you can see them!

Consider the lighting – try to not sit with a bright light behind you creating a silhouette

If it is very bright consider pulling the curtains or lowering the blinds for the duration of the call. Try, at all times, to not have a very bright light / glare, behind you – you just become a shadow which is very hard to engage with..

At night time… yes I do calls at night! Use a desk lamp to create some light below your face rather than just having the room light shining down on top of you.

Minimise external sounds and keep your call private

Close windows, or doors, if there is noise outside. This prevents distractions for you as well as stopping the neighbours overhearing your conversation! many of us are at home now, which will include the neighbours. Next week it will include the kids as well..

Use headphones to keep your conversation private and not overheard by other people in the house.

Put yourself on mute when you are not talking. This is good practice just remember to unmute yourself when you want to talk 😉

Check in at the end with everyone on the call

Ensure that everyone is clear about the outcomes, who is doing what next and by when.

And finally, do a check in with everyone to see how they are feeling at the end of the call. A closing WIFLE 🙂

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If you, your team, or your organisation needs some support during these times of massive change and uncertainty then please reach out.

Lynda worked as a change leader, project and programme manager for many years before focusing on the people aspects. People are key to everything and through supporting the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of our staff, our colleagues and ourself we are able to create happier, healthier workplaces that contribute to the economy and the lives of the local community.

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