Memes of video meeting failures circulating the Internet, remind us that work video calls are so different from video calling friends. It requires a lot more planning beforehand. Especially if you’re responsible for hosting it and you’re using a video conferencing tool for the first time. The whole experience should respect everyone’s time and achieve the intended outcome. Here are some tips to help you host an effective video meeting.
1. Familiarise with the video conferencing platform
Do this before sending out invites to make sure the platform is suitable. You also don’t want to be taking up time by fumbling your way through the features at the meeting. When testing out the platform, think about the activities that will take place and ensure the platform has the exact tools needed.
2. Send out all materials and gather thoughts beforehand
This goes for all meetings of course, but it’s harder to stay focused in a video meeting compared to a physical one. Reading material beforehand will ensure everyone is ready with the same knowledge and have a productive discussion within the allocated time.
3. Create an agenda and send it out
An agenda keeps everyone on track so you can finish the discussion within the allocated time. Anything else that isn’t on the agenda can be taken note of and managed “offline”. It also provides the opportunity for people to be clear about what will be discussed so they can fully engage in the conversation.
4. Keep time zones in mind
If you’re running a video meeting, it probably means that some of your team members work remotely. If they’re in a different timezone, schedule an appropriate meeting time for all, and stick to the time allocated. A 3pm meeting that drags on for an extra hour could eat into dinner time for someone else.
5. Prepare a variety of activities
Starting the meetings with an icebreaker helps everyone warm up to each other and resets their focus to the present. For long meetings, it's good to have a variety of activity formats planned out: watching a video, screen sharing a drawing, or brainstorming with online sticky notes. Make it interesting!
6. Crowdsource questions
Save time by collecting questions while the moderator is speaking. Pigeonhole Live’s Q&A tool allows people to ask questions without interrupting. It also prioritises the most important questions as people can vote for questions to be pushed to the top of the list.
7. Prepare materials you might need
A conference room is usually equipped with stationery, drinking water, and tissue. Likewise, you need to have all these things accessible within your arms length before your video meeting. If you feel thirsty during the meeting or need to attend to a sneeze, you can do it without leaving your seat or awkwardly stretching to reach for these items while on live video.
8. Make your surroundings conducive
When hosting the call from home, do it in a room with privacy and without background noise from the street, the kitchen, or bathroom where other people might be. Set a moderate temperature to your room, and make sure your desk area where you sit is well-lit and tidy.
9. Keep your background appropriate
People will be able to see whatever is in view of your camera. Remember this is a workplace meeting so avoid displaying personal items or anything that could be distracting. Create a background that is professional, simple, and neat. Go for a plain wall, or an uncluttered bookshelf and a house plant. Make it pleasant to the eye.
10. Consider ergonomics
We often take for granted the ergonomics of our work environment. It’s the interior designer’s job. At home, you’re the interior designer of your workspace. Use a comfortable desk chair and adjust your table height to help you maintain good posture. Set up a secondary monitor screen if necessary so you can stay engaged with the video meeting while accessing other documents that you need to line up for the next activity.
11. Dress appropriately
This may sound trivial but it's actually very important. If you won’t walk into your office with shorts and a t-shirt, don’t wear that for a video meeting with your workmates. Plan what you’ll wear in advance instead of throwing on clothes at the top of your laundry pile five minutes before the meeting. Do up your hair in a tidy manner as well to avoid the temptation of “styling” it while looking at yourself on camera during the meeting. All these little touches help to reduce the number of distractions for others and avoid inappropriate moments.
12. Charge your laptop / computer in advance
Exactly that. If not, make sure it's connected to a power source. Imagine if you’re halfway through an important presentation and suddenly your laptop dies, people will have to wait for you to plug up your cable, start up, reconnect, rejoin the conferencing platform, and find the slide that you left off!
13. Make your sure your Internet connection is stable
This one’s kind of a no-brainer but still good to keep in mind. Sometimes stormy weather might occur during the meeting. If your Internet isn’t stable, it will affect the quality of the call.
14. Mute all your messaging apps
Remember that the people in your video call can hear everything that comes from your end of the mic when your mic is switched on. Message notifications can be extremely distracting and may appear rude if it interrupts someone else.
15. Clear any windows you don’t want people to see
You never know when you might need to do a quick screen share during the meeting. So close all windows and tabs that are not relevant. Hide your bookmarks bar on your browser window as well if needed, and clean up your desktop entirely. Only display the files that you will need to refer to during the meeting.
16. Adjust your camera angle
Even if your camera is at a fixed height, attached to your laptop, you can still adjust the angle. A good camera angle should be one that gives people the same viewing experience as when they’re talking to you across the table in a physical conference room.
17. Test your audio settings
Most video conferencing platforms have a mic test function for this. Also make sure your computer volume is at a good level so you can hear others well.
18. Introduce everyone at the beginning if there are any newcomers
It can be easy to forget basic social etiquette when you’re not physically present with people. Keep people engaged and feeling valued even in a video meeting by introducing anyone who could be joining in for the first time. State who they are and why they’re here.
19. Set ground rules
Video meetings are still new for many people. It takes a while to get accustomed to video call etiquette. Help your team by setting ground rules: Muting microphones when not speaking. No multitasking on other browsers during the meeting. Attend phone calls and messages later.
20. Have a contingency plan for interruptions
Finally, plan for the unexpected: Visitors showing up at your door or emergencies that your kids might have in the house. Have a contingency plan so that the meeting still continues without you. This could be a backup network connection or even a back up moderator who is ready to jump into action the minute you drop out.
We hope you find these tips useful. All the best with running your next video meeting!