For many of us, video calls have become the new norm. Whether we’re meeting with clients or checking in with coworkers, video calls are our closest approximation of an in-person meeting for the time being. Though it can feel like a simple enough tool, it’s important to remember that video calls require us to think about things we may not have had to consider in in-person meetings at the office. If you have some video calls coming up on your calendar, here are some important things to keep in mind:
At the moment, the majority of us are conducting these calls from our homes. That might be from an office room, a guest bedroom, a desk in the living room, or the kitchen table. Wherever you’re set up, it’s important to give your environment a scan before jumping on a call. It’s often a good idea to turn your camera on in advance and take a look at what shows up on screen. Having a plain, solid background when possible can help keep distractions to a minimum. Thinking about light is important too, especially if you’re sitting in a room with a lot of windows. Doing a quick sweep to remove any clutter from sight and trying to noise-proof your environment as best as possible are also good steps to take before your calls.
At work, it’s easy for us to step into a meeting with a client. At home, we might be sitting down at our computers having just gone over schoolwork with our kids or done some household chores. A great way to ensure you’re in the right mindset for your meeting is to give yourself at least ten minutes beforehand to get ready. Another great strategy is to dress for it. This doesn’t mean that you need to put on the exact thing you’d wear to work, but having different clothes for work and personal time can help you draw a line between the two. You want to look prepared and professional. It’s also smart to get your computer prepped ahead of time so you’re not rushing on at the last minute or navigating between several open windows.
If you’re the host, it’s important to think about the structure of your meeting. Especially if you’re meeting with a group, your attendee list is key. Generally, the more people, the more challenging it can be for conversation to flow freely. You may need to change the structure of your meetings a bit and break them down into smaller groups to make for a better environment for dialogue. If you’re simply giving a presentation, having a larger group may be fine. But if you’re looking for an active discussion, sticking to 5 or less people when possible can make that a bit easier.
Staying organized for your video calls is essential. If you’re the host, send out a calendar invite to all attendees and ensure that you include the necessary details for them to easily join the meeting. It can also be helpful to send out an agenda in advance, especially for a longer meeting. Be respectful of people’s time, and try to keep video calls to the length specified in your invite. As I mentioned above, you’ll want to have your computer organized as well. If you’ll be sharing your screen at any point during the call, ensure you have the correct windows open and close out of anything you won’t need on the call.
Has your schedule been filling up with more video calls? How is this format different from your in-person meetings and what have you done to adjust? I’d love to hear your thoughts.