By Simon Davis
It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday shuffle of menial workplace tasks, whether it’s preparing agendas or trying to draft concise email responses. The fact is, though, that much of this back and forth is unnecessary and can be avoided if you take advantage of technology that will reduce the time required to complete tasks. Video conferencing has the ability take what normally requires multiple steps, whether it’s a long winded email chain that disintegrates into confusing babble or trying to prepare a Power Point presentation, and combines them all into a single process. However, you need to remember that there are also pitfalls when it comes to video meetings. Here are a few tips about how to get the most bang for your buck when you invest in video conferencing technology.
1. Do Find the Right Provider
There are a lot of different video conferencing services on the market today, both free and paid. If you’re going to be using video conferencing to conduct important business, though, whether you’re an SMB or a large corporation, you need to invest in a reliable provider. Using Blue Jeans to schedule meetings is a good way to guarantee that you can always depend on having a reliable service. This is the first deceptively simple step to hosting a great video conference meeting. One of the biggest wastes of time that hinder effective communication and actionable conclusions during meetings is when video conferencing systems glitch, whereas if you use a paid provider, that’s not going to happen.
2. Don’t Recite, Do Engage
Computer World advises that one surefire way to kill any video conference is to recite, rather than engage, warning about the trap of simply reading off Power Point slides. No one wants to watch a boring speaker simply read what’s on the screen when the participants could view the presentation themselves from the comfort of their desk. Rather than presenting a dull unengaging topic, you need to incorporate dynamic commentary and reflections for your audience, as well as inviting them to ask questions. The best way to do this is to rehearse beforehand, and even have note cards. Try to think of yourself as an observer, and what you would find to be a valuable use of your time. Another reason to not simply recite facts and figures is that you’re using video conferencing, so make the most of the technology and exploit its true potential.
3. Do Check Your Tech
It may seem obvious, but all too often presenters and participants alike don’t bother to check their equipment before the meeting begins, and then cause delays which alienates the entire group. Many times, it’s not that the person is careless, but might be running late due to a packed schedule. However, remember that everyone else also inevitably has a packed schedule and probably took the time to check their own equipment. This falls under showing concern and respect for your fellow video conference meeting participants. Not only is it an annoyance for other people who have successfully joined the video conference to have to wait, but you can also miss giving important information. For example, Entrepreneur warns not to deliver an important speech, only to realize that your mic has been muted the entire time. Although most of today’s video conferencing technology is extremely user friendly, nothing can replace preparation.
4. Don’t Start Without an Agenda
There’s no bigger mistake than trying to conduct a meeting without an agenda. If you want to have a productive meeting that yields results, you need a guide. Although some professionals are natural leaders and good at keeping a discussion on track, there’s no replacement for having a pre-set framework of what will be discussed and how. For example, maintaining a time limit on speaking will not only help to make sure everyone is heard, but also create a more organized video conference meeting. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of who’s talking, even with everyone on camera, and you want to be sure that the discussion takes place in an orderly fashion. It’s very easy to get derailed when other issues come up, especially if you have an opinionated group or the topic is contentious. Make sure everyone feels valued, has their say, and stick to the agenda.
There are lots of different techniques that can either benefit or hinder a video conference meeting, but the most effective ones are also the most simple. Always try to keep the perspective of the observer in mind – put yourself in their shoes. The worst feeling for participants in any meeting is that they’ve wasted valuable time listening to someone drone on about information they could’ve gotten more quickly from simply looking at the data on their own computer screen. The core of video conferencing and why it’s useful is that it allows a more dynamic, interactive experience for doing business with clients and colleagues.
Simon Davis has been a full-time business writer since the last 4 years and has had the privilege of attending some of the most renowned business conclaves held across the world. When not on business he loves spending time with his girlfriend and a bit of adventure sports. @_Simondavis.