Right so, if you are anything like me and work, live and breathe in the start-up and/or freelance world then this one unanswered question will be particularly pertinent to youâŚ
As we move toward 2017, with a barrage of tech. at our fingertips:
âWHY is it still so difficult to have a bloody half decent video-call?â
Deeply confused, sitting down to write this I looked within myself for the answerâŚ
Is it the tech.?
Is it the fact that half the time I feel like Iâm using software with the same extravagant technology as Grandmaâs Windows â95 desktop computer? Or maybe that I know that without hogging every single iota of bandwidth in a one mile radius my call is likely to drop, hang, flag, scramble, or explode? Hmmmm.
Is it me?!
But then maybe I canât just blame the tech, can I? Maybe Iâm to blame. Maybe Iâm so unwaveringly sure that my video-call is going to be crap that I have subliminally decided that I donât give a hoot.
I think Iâm onto something here. Thatâs why I am rarely on time for a video-meeting. Itâs probably why my checklist for a productive meeting is almost certainly not to hand (and if it is to hand then it will probably be somewhere in the depths of my computer, along with all the other articles I need to reference during the meeting.) Â
Itâs definitely meâŚ
Well giving it some real thought, I do disrupt meetings by unforgivingly taking notes, avoiding eye contact, and going off on various tangents just generally seeming to create an environment where Eric Clapton would struggle to find his rhythm.
But itâs not just my fault youâre having shoddy video-meetings! Paul from salesâs beautiful face will likely pop-up on the call 15 minutes late whilst you are half-way through your productive insight about the monthly analytics. Paul will of course scupper any chance of you making your points eloquently and end up discussing sales targets.
And just in-case, post-call, you have any fight left in you youâll be sent over all the discussion points, word for word, on Slack. This is done just to ensure that the last 1 hour youâve spend on our â15 minuteâ video-call is rendered completely and utterly useless.
So what next?
Yes, when it comes to video-meetings I will openly admit I am a terrible person. But I bet you are too! The good news is that we donât mean to be, we are just a product of our environment. So enough is enough. Letâs save 31 hours a month of nonsense meetings and move the needle.
So, here are 23, 0% time-consuming, 100% actionable ways to make sure that the art of a video-call doesnât die out because we are all useless.
You think this is obvious right? WRONG! Iâm not talking about a checklist that you have on your phone, Apple pages, or an email. Iâm talking about using a Video conferencing solution that has an interactive-checklist built in.
Allow your meeting to structure and flow without having to open and close files and web-pages.
I doubt it. So why do we do it on Video-calls?! Maybe itâs the innate desire not to be the first in the virtual-meeting room, sitting there like a lemon with only a reflection of your unmistakably bored face to keep you company.
Regardless, get there on time. Punctuality emanates efficiency.
Urgh. Give me ancient Chinese water torture. âClockwork orangeâ me with a season of The Kardashians. Just donât give me a transatlantic Skype call with average to poor internet connection.
Itâs 2017 people. Use video-calling software that works. They do exist!
If you donât have the information to hand, check after the call and send it over. Donât faff about disrupting the meeting. Likewise if youâve asked for something and they donât have it to hand.
Keep the meeting lean, and sharp. Itâs a faff-free zone.
You wouldnât peruse an article during a face-to-face would you!? Maybe you wouldâŚ But if you wouldnât, donât bloody do it in a video-call.
Seems like slight overkill to make 3 points around the same concept. But if overkill is what it takes to get you bloominâ focused in your weekly meeting then overkill it is. DONâT take notes during the meeting.
You may think that taking notes is a good thing. It isnât. At least not for the poor sod trying to acutely explain things whilst having to contest with the palaver of your tippy-tappy, slowcoach typing. Find video conferencing software with audio record options, record the dialogue and make notes post-meeting.
Donât be the guy/girl with the pixelated face, resembling that of the worldâs worst ever corporate flip-book, whilst giving your best audio impression of The Scatman.
Check that youâve got good connectivity before jumping on the call otherwise visual-lag, audio-fade and all the other good stuff awaits you. If youâre genuinely concerned about your connection make a quick pre-meeting test call.
You know when you look at yourself on a video-call youâre not looking them in the eye, right? You also know that you never really notice this because when you look them in the eye (i.e the camera), youâre not looking at yourself anymore, right?
Functionality-wise, what does your conference calling software do? What doesnât it do? Can you do it? Are you in a compatible browser? Are they? Be the authority. It looks good.
Guess what? If hangouts just scrambled your call for the 4th time, the 5th call back probably wonât work a treat. 2 strike policy maximum. Then find another way or choose another time.
Have you noticed that dim lights mess up the video clarity? Cool. Then donât have a video-meeting in dim lights. Good talk.
Paul from sales just wonât get the memo. Donât scupper your discussion because heâs tardy. Donât ruin your flow because he didnât organise his time efficiently.
Paul can pick up the pieces, post-call. People dropping in and out is absolutely catastrophic to meeting-efficiency and focus. Be stringent with this and the bar will be set.
Stick to your bullet points. Donât meander. Like this answer.
The devil you know is better than the devil you donât. But make sure that that devil is a good bloody service! There are some great, free ones out there.
Hopping around on different mediums is always disorganised and whether you like it or not will always detract from the consistency of excellent video-meetings.
If you are paying for:
These can and should be mandatory in a good quality free service. Premium features have to be pretty special to command a subscription for video-conferencing.
Hereâs a handy one. This kills many of the efficiency problems you face in one fell swoop.Â
Click a record button and all the note-taking can be done post-call. You look good, they look good and you havenât killed each other with virtual hatred. Itâs win-win.
No this isnât one of those vague, crappy catchphrases that Iâm using because we are getting to the end of the list and Iâm trying to get over 20 points in. Promise!
Basically, text-boxes are evil! Most video-conferencing tools have a text box so you end up with this quasi-text, quasi-speaking Â jumbled spaghetti-mess of a meeting.
How are you supposed to efficiently create actionables from this. Keep your text-talk and your video-calls separate. They both have their advantages.
Such a simple concept but such a good one. 15 minute timer, 30 minute timer, whatever it is stick to it.
Do not run over. Keeping an eye on the time will only help in the long run. Efficiency is learnt and productivity sores.
Even if your Video Conference software is brilliant, and not bandwidth-zilla, every little helps. Keep your applications light when you are video-calling. Ensure excellent quality calls.
Not just this but when it comes to screen sharing you avoid looking like a disorganised turnip as you casually scroll around your pristine pages, for all to see. You stud.
If you have a lot of video-calls then itâs pretty likely youâre into screensharing. If you are into screensharing then itâs pretty likely you know how many crap screensharing functions exist. Finding a Video Conference website with a reliable screenshare function is golden.
Wait! Donât just regurgitate what was spoken about in essay form. Donât render that video-meeting pointless, we beg of you.
Just a few simple bullet points for clarity and accountability will do.
Say youâve done everything right. Youâve got killer software. Organisation is at an all-time high. You are Mr. Efficient: poignant, switched on and ready. BUT alas today the video-conferencing Gods have other ideas.
WellâŚ. donât hang-up, or reload, or sit there looking at your own pixelated blob of a face with distain. Just switch over to audio. Sure, itâs not the same we know that. But dropping down to audio and continuing the call efficiently trumps helpless faffing.
I get it. Not being able to see them whilst they can see you. Itâs creepy. Itâs like youâre suddenly part of some weird voyeuristic video-conferencing experiment. They could be doing anything over there!
Well, on my head be it, I promise you they are not. If they can see you perfectly then half is better than none. They are still get the video experience and more times than not that is more important.
Now weâre on to somethingâŚ
And there we have it team. 23 ways to construct excellent video-meetings. Trust me. Yes, the guy in the intro. THAT guy. The guy who used to kid himself that Video conferencing software was a dying breed:
âWho needs it when you have Slack and Trello, right?â
So wrong. Video-meetings are utterly integral to excellent communication, progressive teamwork, trust and team-coordination, not to mention youâre damn accountable to your team if thereâs video! And best of all, these 23 points, they are notâŚ wellâŚ Useless.
24 – When on a Video Conference call makes sure youâve dressed up in a full on 3-piece suit and perhaps even a top hat to command respect from your peers in the workplace.
You get the picture. What Iâm saying is none of these points required me to do anything different from my usual routine. Simple, actionable tools that, if you have them as your unwavering Video Connferencing mantra, I promise will give you unparalleled purpose.
Now my bi-weekly team meetings are 15 minutes long (not a second longer), not a single team-member has been late for over a month, and most importantly everyone is on the exact same page of how to get the most out of our Video Conference calls. Iâve honestly never felt part of a more efficient and accountable, remote team. Even when Iâm calling from my grandmaâs desktop.