Videoconferencing During Covid-19

With untold numbers of employees suddenly working from home, video conferencing has become the go-to method for running meetings and communicating with staff.

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If you’ve ever sat through a poorly-run video conference meeting, you know that simply purchasing the latest video-conferencing platform is not a panacea.

Fortunately, there are four simple techniques to improve video conferencing that you can implement today!

Technique No.1: Everyone Must Use Video

The majority of video conferences have at least a few people who only use audio. Unless there’s a serious technical glitch, you should require everyone on the call to activate their webcam.

When only a few people use video, it quickly erodes the team’s cohesion. The folks who activate their video will be thinking “It’s not fair that Bob isn’t using video,” or “How come I have to be on video but Sally doesn’t?” or “I know Pat’s not really paying attention and that’s why they didn’t activate their webcam.”

If people are already stressed, and more likely to engage in negative thinking, those are not thoughts that you want to encourage.

Technique No.2: Everyone Must Use A Headset

Most people log into a videoconference with their laptop and simply use the computer’s built-in microphone and speaker. And while that’s certainly cheaper than buying an external headset, it makes for a painful videoconference.

If you hear disruptive echoes, reverb or someone who sounds like they’re speaking in the middle of an aeroplane hangar, it’s often caused by two factors. First, the built-in microphones on most laptops and computers are low quality, especially compared to what you’ll find on even fairly inexpensive headsets and external microphones.

The second reason you hear those awful echoes or reverb is that when you’re using the internal microphone and speakers, you’re essentially on speakerphone. Thus you run the risk of your microphone picking up sound from your speakers.

It’s possible that your laptop has an echo cancellation feature. However, if you’re experiencing a high CPU load because you’ve got multiple applications running, that feature could be rendered ineffective.

Also, it’s much more difficult to interrupt someone when they’re essentially on a cheap speakerphone. So, get everyone on your team using headsets, and see a big improvement in the quality of your videoconferences.

Technique No.3: Pause Every Three Sentences When You’re Speaking

Even with headsets, it can be tough to hear when someone wants to cut in and ask a question. Therefore, you’ll need to instruct everyone on your team to pause for a few seconds after they speak (approximately) three sentences.

It’s shocking just how many people can speak uninterrupted for 5-10 minutes (if not more) on a videoconference. If this happens, the other people on the call are virtually guaranteed to lose focus. And forget the question they wanted to ask. And even become seriously irritated.

If you remind your team at the beginning of every videoconference you’ll quickly see a marked improvement.

Technique #4: Have Clear Rules For Your Videoconference

More than 20,000 people have taken the free online test “Is Your Personality Suited To Working Remotely Or In The Office?”. Respondents answer ten questions and receive results indicating whether their personality is better suited to working remotely or working in an office.

One of the questions asks people to choose between these two statements:

  • I prefer not to be constrained by a set of rigid rules.
  • I like having rules and clearly defined expectations.

The data shows that 43% of people like having rules and clearly defined expectations. So if your videoconference doesn’t have a clearly defined agenda with clearly defined blocks of time, a process for everyone to take turns speaking, and strict start and stop times, you risk running afoul of the desires of nearly half your team.

In a typical face-to-face meeting, you can afford to get a little sloppy and careless with your meeting structure; you’ll immediately see via everyone’s body language that things are going poorly and you can regroup quickly. But on a videoconference, the telltale signs of a meeting going poorly aren’t quite so obvious.

Even though a minute-by-minute agenda might seem a bit much for a videoconference with your internal team, the structure is a good antidote for stress.

With your employees likely feeling all-time-high levels of stress, it’s a great idea for you to eliminate as many irritants and stressors as possible. With an exponential increase in the number of leaders and employees conducting video conferences, small tweaks can deliver significant improvement.

For more support and tips on how we’re helping businesses limit the imapct of Covid-19 contact karl.s@peapletalent.com