If these scenarios sound familiar, then your video meetings are in need of a new plan of action. For that reason, we’ve prepared 10 actionable tips. Consider including them in your next video session to make it more productive.
1. Understand the video conferencing platform you’re using
Take the time to test and familiarize yourself with the tool your team is using. Having a clear understanding of the platform helps you determine if it’s good enough for your team’s needs. So, if you feel your current video meeting tool isn’t doing the trick, consider switching to Zoom or Google Meet. Also, try to join the session five to ten minutes before the meeting to assure that everything’s running smoothly.
Google Meet is a perfect solution for people who want something fast, practical, and reliable for daily use. Their free plan is awesome for one-on-one meetings and smaller group sessions with up to three people. Every group session with more than three and up to 100 people participating will be limited to one hour. The Workspace Essentials paid plan allows you to go over the one-hour limit and expands the number of participants to 150. It also grants access to live Q&A polls, recording features, breakout rooms, and more. That said, there is a big downside to Google Meet. The seamless integration with other G Suite apps, such as Google Calendar, makes it Gmail exclusive. So, if you are not using G Suite to host your company email, it would be best to try out more suitable alternatives.
Zoom, on the other hand, doesn’t require a Gmail account. If Google Calendar is your app of choice, you won’t have any compatibility issues. Zoom is also simple, easy to use, and full of unique features. The whiteboard, remote control, and virtual background are all a part of the package. Seeing all the options it offers, it’s easy to understand why paid Zoom plans aren’t exactly the cheapest ones around. Workspace Essentials by Google Meet will cost you $8 a month, compared to $15 a month for Zoom’s Pro plan. That said, Zoom’s Pro plan still offers more meeting hours and features that aren’t available in any other tool. Besides that, Zoom offers a 17% discount for annual memberships.
2. Set some ground rules
Online meetings are not family meetups. To keep things productive and professional, set up some ground rules for your team. This is especially important if they aren’t accustomed to video conferencing. Try sharing the rules at the beginning of the session. If you have meetings often, consider creating a brief guideline, i.e., the dos and don’ts for company video meetings. This will help your team make the most out of the experience.
Here are some rules you should consider adding to your guidelines:
- Be on time
- Mute your audio when you’re not speaking
- Don’t interrupt people when they’re talking
- Adjust your camera and face the light
- Don’t multitask – people will notice it
- Clear your background
- Dress appropriately
- Get rid of background noises and distractions
- If possible, arrive a few minutes early
3. Prepare your notes and key points before the meeting
Whether you’re used to improvising or having your notes ready, we suggest preparing them before the meeting. Having a few key bullet points next to you prevents you from steering off-topic. Plus, it helps you deliver your arguments in the most logical order. Write down the most important things you want to talk about and make sure you have them with you when the meeting starts.
4. Define the main topic you want to address
Don’t invite people to a meeting unless there is a pre-defined topic. Otherwise, it’s no different from your typical family meetup. The main topic, otherwise known as the agenda, needs to be defined if you want your meeting to stay on track and within the allocated time. A typical agenda includes a list of topics and tasks you want to talk about during the meeting. It also includes important info, such as who will lead each task and how long it could take.
If you’re struggling with defining your agenda here are a few helpful tips to get you started:
Set the main goal you want to reach with the meeting
- Define whether it’s a long-term or a short-term goal
- Explain who needs to be involved
- Decide on how long it will take to reach your goal
Define the meeting duration
- Assign time slots for every subject
- Make sure they’re addressed in proper order or manner
Structure the session
- Decide on the order in which your topics will be discussed
- Determine the right slots for Q&A polls
- Include icebreakers if necessary
Define the main presenters and notify them in advance
- Invite only the people who really need to be present
- Think about the amount of time it will take them to prepare
- Let them know in advance when their turn to present is
Double-check your guest list
- Make sure all your presenters are there before starting the session
- Make sure that you know who’s missing so you can brief them afterwards
5. Send out your agenda upfront
Make sure that everyone receives a well-written agenda at least a day (preferably a week) before the meeting. This gives your participants enough time to understand and prepare for the discussion. As well as share their own opinions and views on the topic. Without an agenda, the participants will have a hard time identifying important meetings. Lack of timely and appropriate input cripples all efforts towards productivity. The only thing they can do at that point is judge based on their titles alone, and that isn’t enough.
6. Choose (or be) a good moderator
Having a good moderator is crucial for maintaining a healthy work culture. Their roles mostly include:
- Welcoming the participants
- Defining the agenda
- Introducing the speakers
- Giving certain permissions when needed
Moderators need to be well prepared and organized. This is why it’s important to delegate it to someone who you know is up for the challenge. If you feel like being a moderator is the perfect task for you, then pick a quiet, calm place with little to no visual distractions. Prepare all your materials in advance and double-check for mistakes or improvements. Schedule the meeting once you send them out for approval. Last, but not least, test your flow on a dummy call an hour or so before the meeting.
Another important thing to consider is sudden interruptions. Internet connection losses or unexpected drop-ins can easily occur and throw you off. The best way to prepare for this is to assign a backup moderator who’s ready to jump into the spotlight when needed.
7. Introduce newcomers at the beginning of the meeting
Always make sure that all newcomers are introduced at the beginning of the session to make them feel welcome. Notify your team about their presence, why they’re there, and how you expect them to contribute. But don’t overdo it. Share only the basic information and let them take over from there.
8. Watch out for time zones
Think about different time zones and how they may impact productivity. For example, a 12pm call on your side could be a 5am call for someone else. Likewise, a 5pm call on their side could be past bedtime for you. Make sure to find the most suitable time frame for everyone. Before scheduling the meeting, ask them to confirm their availability. If you want to be extra considerate, take productivity into account. For instance, some people feel more productive in the morning, and others can’t think straight before noon. Depending on the purpose of the meeting, you may want to have everyone on their A game.
9. Prepare interactive activities
Many people struggle with anxiety and uncertainty, especially when high-priority matters are discussed. Start off your meetings with fun icebreakers that help with the initial tension. This also encourages your team members to share constructive feedback. If the matter is too complex to fit into four slides and a few bullet points, consider using different formats. This can include videos, drawings, sticky notes, or even collective brainstorming sessions.
10. Crowdsource questions
Integrate live Q&A tools that allow your team members to ask relevant questions without interrupting the current speaker. During the speaker’s presentation, team members can type in their questions. They can also vote to push the most important ones for the speaker to see and answer first.
Productive video meetings shouldn’t look like casual meetups, but if done right, they can feel like it. The key is to minimize unnecessary pressure while encouraging contribution and feedback. To do that, it is essential to come prepared and test out the platform beforehand.
In the modern-day business world, good video conferencing skills are a must. Even more so if you work 100% remotely, as we do at Assist-o. If you’d like to know more about our approach and how it could be tailored to fit your own business, feel free to get in touch!