While the current crisis restricts our movements, we can learn new business behaviours to help us now and in the future. First on my list is mastery of the video call: something many of us do poorly. Remember video calls when you couldn’t see or hear colleagues properly, when no one knew when to talk or shut up; when no one was clear on what was agreed? Let’s now decide to win at video calls.
Begin with the right environment. Take a video call in a place where you can draw boundaries- the simplest being a shut door. Point your web camera at a blank wall, away from common areas like kitchen or hallway. Ensure you are well lit or you’ll look like a criminal informant trying to preserve anonymity. Side lighting is best, and make sure there’s no window behind you. Look directly at the camera you are using, not a monitor off to the side. Bandwidth may slow down in many neighbourhoods.
Test video and audio by calling a friend at the start of the day -that also reduces social disconnection! We all now realise how sensitive microphones are, so do what you can to stop dogs barking and kids chattering. Make sure you are connected to the call, and have set up your earphones and camera correctly at least 5 minutes before the start. Mute your mic and camera as a default.
Wear appropriate clothing. It’s tempting to wear a smart top and sloppy bottoms, but what if you have to get up suddenly? Dress as you would for work.
The most empowering thing about the present situation is anyone can become an effective meeting Chairperson, if they wish. Colleagues are crying out for someone to bring order to video calls. ‘Carpe diem’ and go back to the basics of good meetings.
First have an agenda and a record. Set both up on one shared document before the call. Then appoint a ‘secretary’ to type the record as the meeting progresses.
Chair should run the meeting at a brisk pace. When there is a gap, people start wandering off. Check comprehension and consensus frequently. Use phrases like ‘So, we’ve all agreed a daily CRM update is vital, and Yvonne will action that. Correct?”
Encourage participants to signal when they wish to talk. Verbally, by saying something like “Hi it’s Jim, with a question.” Or hold up a hand, so Chair can cue them in.
Coach colleagues to ‘be bright, be brief, and be gone’. People must think about making their point in the fewest possible words. Chair can politely stop people repeating themselves: “Thanks Sam, that point is well made.”