In the wake of the coronavirus and sudden need for teams to work remotely, the occasional disembodied conference call isn't going to cut it. For team cohesion, moral, clarity of communication and more, people are being forced out of their comfort zones and learning to use video conferencing for regular communication. Unfortunately, lack of strategy and skill for running video meetings can make for an experience that is both inefficient and painful, and reflects badly on leadership. That's why I'm offering organizations a live interactive virtual training with five key strategies to confidently run an effective video conference.**
But in case your organization isn't offering the full training, here's a synopsis video, followed by a few key points that anyone can use:
Acknowledge the elephant in the room with your team from the start: Nobody likes looking at themselves on camera! Take the meeting seriously but don't take yourselves TOO seriously, and commit to all stepping out of the comfort zone together.
Practice using your organization's platform (Zoom, Skype, WebEx etc.) several times ahead of time to get comfortable with the buttons and functions, and test your camera, mic and speakers in advance; tech glitches can derail the meeting before it starts, and if you are fumbling around or otherwise look uncertain at the start of the meeting, you undermine your own authority. Secret tip: Aim the camera so you take up the WHOLE screen; don't have half the screen looking at your ceiling while you're just a little talking head way down at the bottom. Otherwise you give away your power by appearing small and timid, and it just looks silly!
3. Screen-sharing and Slides
Create PPT slides to maximize engagement by having MORE slides with LESS content on each so you click and change the visual as frequently as possible. That way the audience has to pay attention or they'll miss something, and are less likely to “multitask” (i.e. pay attention to everything but you!)
4. Sounding natural rather than canned
Remember, it's just a conversation! Look at their faces and talk to them like they're in the room with you. If you have to do any asynchronous video recordings (e.g. news blasts to a larger audience that they'll watch at their convenience rather than live) it can feel like you're talking to yourself, so try taping a picture of friends or family (someone that makes you smile or feel comfortable) up by the camera lens and talk to them instead.
5. Managing Participation and Engagement
Set behavioral expectations in advance. Ask everyone to silence phones and put them out of view, and close or minimize email windows to minimize temptation and distraction. Put it in writing along with the agenda via email before the meeting, and announce it formally at the start of the meeting. Then show everyone that you're doing it in real time, and ask them to take those steps with you, committing to being present and focused for the duration of the meeting.
These should help you take a HUGE leap forward, getting organized and building confidence to project the leadership you want others to see, and setting the course for maximizing the value of the time you all spend together while strengthening your relationships in the process.
(**If you're interested in having me lead the full virtual training for your organization, or work with you on mastering these skills and more, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)