Managing large meetings is an art. Via Zoom or any other Video Conferencing tool even more.
Especially now in the time of lockdown. A quick watercooler moment of 10 minutes in the office is converted to 60 min Zoom meeting amongst other important and urgent meetings that need to be conducted over VC. We are busier than ever. Considering several timezomes if you are working for a Global company you need to educate yourself and your peers with a more efficient and effective VC etiquette.
First the data…a 2019 survey on meetings from Doodle, a scheduling platform, found that in-person, face-to-face meetings were far and away the favored format. But now we are dealing with a new real. Due to COVID-19, our day to day meetings take place in form of Skype, Webex, Zoom or Teams video conferencing. There are lots of other ways to communicate from a distance, of course. Email, text, group chat, a regular old phone call. Why the surge of interest in this one?
Cause we all crave human contact. And Zoom feels like the next-best thing. Maybe that’s part of the problem! But the course of it can cause some irritation. And with that, a virtual meeting can emotionally cost just as much energy as a face to face meeting.
So, what is so exhausting about interacting with a grid of faces on video chat? There are a number of factors: The body language and other cues that we expect but can’t access; the way we monitor our own appearance; the stimulation of staring into faces at close range; the inability to take a break, move, or change our surroundings.
These etiquette rules below will help you manage your conference call.
- Start on time and test your tech before the call
On average, VC meetings take less than 40 minutes. But 8 minutes of that is consumed by technical issues during start-up. Nothing is more bothering than a slow internet speeds, malfunctioning microphone or connectivity issues. One of the most important things to do before joining a call or hosting one is making sure that your hardware works and that your internet speeds are fast enough to support a decent level of quality for a video call. You can check your internet speed on Google here: https://projectstream.google.com/speedtest
- Solid presentation
When you dial in via VC, you would do well to pay attention to the visual aspect as well. Make sure that the lightning is good and you are not sitting in a dark spot. With some video conferencing tools as Skype and Teams you can blur the background or tele transport yourself to a deserted beach or in space: useful when you haven’t had time to clean up your room! Zoom allows its users to add a fun virtual background to their video instead. Also, make sure you look presentable- it’s best to match your video call look to how you’d normally look in the office, and this can be a challenge in lockdown.
- Introduce yourself
It all starts with a great host but especially in meetings where the participants do not know each other, it is always good to introduce everyone. Best is a round of introductions where everyone introduces themselves as everyone can hear each other’s voice for a moment. Because in calls, your voice is the tool.
- Make sure you mention if you are calling in from a noisy place
In the ideal world, you enter a conference call in a serene place where silence and tranquillity reign. But we are in lockdown, the lines between private life and family are flattened. Children are running around and interfering with your calls. So, let people know at the beginning of the call that you’ll be on mute unless you’re speaking. It’s the respectful thing to do..
- If you are not speaking: mute yourself
You do not necessarily have to be aware of the background noise that can be heard in your room but your laptop’s microphone is a little less selective in that! Typing a quick reply to your colleague whilst on the VC call can be heard so turn off your microphone.
- Keep the conference call short and concise
Conference calls are exhausting. Mainly because you only have your hearing to register the meeting. That takes a lot of your concentration. Especially if the sound also comes in via a creaky connection. In your call, try to focus exclusively on what is necessary.
If you suffer from Zoom fatigue, try this:
- Camera should be optional, and in general there should be a greater understanding that cameras do not always need to be enabled during every meeting.
- Keeping your screen to the side instead of straight can also help your concentration
As with any virtual meeting, you try to simulate the real-life situation as much as possible with conference calls.