As the world re-opens, many companies are eager to return to regular programming. And they’re requiring their workforce to return to the office and attend face-to-face meetings. However, many organizations have discovered something interesting in the past two years of forced remote working; they’re learned that their employees are more engaged, happier, and productive when working from home. Whether your company has decided to allow all employees to work remotely or to maintain a hybrid workforce, regular meetings remain necessary to keep teams connected and motivated. And video conference calls become necessary to communicate and coordinate.
Unfortunately, video conference calls became the topic of ridicule. Meeting participants spend too much time figuring out the video conferencing technology, technical glitches, and audio problems. And, of course, we’ve all seen the funny videos of chaotic video conference calls where someone’s pet, child, or surprised housemate makes a sudden appearance on screen. Some employees fail to understand basic video conferencing call etiquette.
Little disruptions and inappropriate behavior can lead to unproductive meetings. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risk of common distractions and misconduct. Here’s how you can conduct more productive conference calls:
Enforce a video conferencing policy
If video conference calls are part of your new normal, you should have a policy that outlines the practice, process, and requirements. This should include the required hardware and installed software so every participant knows the technical requirements before joining a call. Your policy should also include whether you need employees to wear a headset with a built-in mic and noise reduction technology. Will you have a dress code in place, which is common for teams that often include clients in their video conference calls? Will you be strict about having housemates and pets appearing in the background? Will you have a rule that doesn’t allow meeting participants to record the session and share it on other platforms, specifically social media?
Ideally, everyone should have a copy of this policy or have access to it online. When listing the required software, such as video conferencing platform, screen-sharing app, collaboration tools, or recording software, provide links to the download sites along with installation instructions.
Discuss video conferencing etiquette
Because video conferencing is new territory for many people, please don’t assume that everyone is immediately aware of video conferencing etiquette and naturally practices it. These can be listed along with the video conferencing policy. It also doesn’t hurt to mention them quickly at the start of every call, such as muting yourself when not speaking, framing your camera around your face correctly, using the right lighting, and minimizing distractions. Some meeting facilitators will tell participants to hold their questions until the end or suggest that you type questions in the chat box so they can be addressed later.
Always have an agenda
Whether it’s a quick check-in or a brainstorming session, all video conference calls should have an agenda. Even a quick team check-in can become more effective and productive and not feel like a waste of time when prepared for and done right. Before everyone joins the meeting, have your check-in questions ready. Set expectations by letting the participants know the purpose of the call and how long the session will last. If the reason for the video conference call is for a bigger, lengthier discussion, email each participant a copy of the agenda beforehand.
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