From workshops and catch-ups to board meetings and appraisals – video calling has quickly become the new normal for businesses big and small across the globe.
As a totally distributed workforce, our team know a thing or two about running effective video conferences. We may be Skype, Teams and Zoom pros now. But we’ve learnt the secrets of what makes a good call the hard way. Keep reading to discover our top tips to keep your next video call running smoothly.
1. The mute button is your friend (well, most of the time)
– Rich Whitehouse, Creative Strategist, Emberson Brand
It’s not that we don’t all enjoy a good game of ‘who’s causing the echo’ and the soothing soundtrack of dogs barking in the background – but noisy interruptions can waste time. When you’re not speaking, it’s good meeting etiquette to keep yourself on mute. Just don’t forget to unmute when it’s your turn to speak. We’ve all been there!
2. Choose your designated driver wisely.
– Clare Pratt, Group Managing Director, Emberson Group
Effectively reading body language plays such an important role in the running of a traditional face-to-face meeting or workshop. It’s how we know who’s about to chip in. But, with fewer physical queues to pick up on, video calls can quickly degenerate into games of interruption tennis. The solution to ensuring everyone gets their voice heard? Simple. Make sure you establish a designated meeting driver. A single person to take on the responsibility of directing the meeting traffic – setting the agenda, leading the call and starting questions with people’s names as a clear indication that you’re handing over the floor to them.
3. Never work with animals or children.
– Natalie Sweet, Account Director, Emberson Marketing
Having the whole family at home is always going to throw up the odd curveball here and there. But we’re all in the same boat. Even as a seasoned work-from-home-er it’s been tricky for me to balance being a mum, wife and chief dog walker with running meetings in peace. Establishing a do not disturb signal is essential for letting everyone know where they stand. It could be as simple as keeping the door shut or putting a little sign up. If only someone had pointed this out to Professor Robert Kelly.
4. Know your connection’s limits.
– Alex Hudd, Executive Assistant, Emberson Group
With a massive increase in remote working, comes the inevitable strain on our residential broadband connections. In fact, Vodafone have already reported a 50% increase in internet usage as more people than ever before strive to work effectively from home. If your connection is feeling the strain, there’s not a lot you can do about that in the moment. Turning off your camera can help. But we always find it pays to have a backup plan. Especially if you’re meant to be the one talking through the deck. Sharing any documents before-hand will mean that either: a colleague can pick up the baton when your connection drops out or participants can always look through things offline and reconvene at a later time.
5. Be overshare aware.
– Helen Webber, Account Director, Emberson Brand
Everyone’s worst nightmare. You go to screen share a document and you reveal to the whole meeting room that you haven’t just been killing the five minutes before kick-off reading The FT or checking in on Reuters. You’ve been aimlessly scrolling through the Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame, updating your twitter or much, much, worse. You get the idea. Taking two minutes before a call starts to close all your unnecessary tabs or documents gives you the best chance of avoiding any accidental overshares. You might want to rethink your desktop background while you’re at it, too.
There you have it. Some invaluable common sense from our team of seasoned video call vets. If you’d like to see any of our team’s video conferencing skills first hand, why not get in touch? They’re always happy to chat, share their experience or grab a virtual coffee.