Videoconferencing was once thought of a poor alternative to a face to face meeting. Today, however, it is anything but…when done well of course.
A well run, well executed videoconference can be a powerful and collaborative experience.
Here are our top tips for running a powerful video conference:
Turn on the video!
Too often, people plan video-conferences and then for one reason or another they don’t use the video conferencing facility. Or, people working from home decide to switch off the video because they’re not quite ‘work ready’.
In a bid to facilitate collaboration, encourage people to turn on the video. With voice alone, the silence can be confusing: perhaps everyone is nodding in agreement, or taking notes…how will you know without video? Video features immediately allow people to see and read social cues and facial reactions. It humanises the room and adds presence to the meeting.
Send out stimulating pre-work:
Agendas are as old as time. Yes they’re important but are they truly the best way to encourage preparation in advance and then debate and discussion during the meeting? Sometimes agendas can be counter-productive because when people know what’s coming, they can feel they don’t need to prepare: they know that topic; they’ll get by.
Instead, try to think of a fun, stimulating or engaging way for people to prepare. Could you send out a recorded message with five questions to answer? Could you ask people to watch a related video and each come prepared with one thing they took from the video? Could they fill in a questionnaire and submit the responses before the meeting? If they say they don’t have time to participate in the pre-work, perhaps they’re not that engaged and you should find another way to engage people as individuals.
If you’re holding a video conference with people from different locations, or different departments, consider including 10-15 minutes at the start of the meeting where people can introduce themselves and share the news of a particular project they’re working on. This helps to humanise the ‘voices’ on the call, and gives people a common footing on which to build.
Another way to encourage collaboration is to give each person time on the agenda. Perhaps you could meet with them in advance to discuss the outcome you’re looking for and give them the freedom to prepare. This could help people to look forward to the call, and feel they have a true purpose for being there. As each person takes their turn, you could ask the other people on the call to write down one thing that resonates with them and one thing they’d like to understand in more detail. This can drive conversations and interaction during and beyond the meeting and it helps to drive active listening during the video conference. Over the course of the meeting, call on different people to reflect back on what they’ve interpreted from the points being made to ensure people stay engaged. This helps to build positive disciplines around listening and active participation.
Ask for feedback:
At the end of meeting, ask everyone what one thing they would have done differently if they had the opportunity to join the meeting again. This will help to unearth any issues with the ways the meetings are run and you may just get some fantastic new idea to build engagement in the next video conference!
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