23 Do’s and Don’ts of Online Video meetings and Conferences – TeamTalk Blog

23 Do’s and Don’ts of Online Video meetings and Conferences

23 Do’s and Don’ts of Online Video meetings and Conferences

Posted by Freddie Cull | November 22, 2016 | Design, Branding
23 Do’s and Don’ts of Online Video meetings and Conferences

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 you…

As we move toward 2017, with a barrage of tech. at our fingertips:

“WHY is it still so difficult to have a bloody half decent video-call?”

Deeply confused, sitting down to write this I looked within myself for the answer…

Is it the tech.?

Is it the fact that half the time I feel like I’m using software with the same extravagant technology as Grandma’s Windows ’95 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 can’t just blame the tech, can I? Maybe I’m to blame. Maybe I’m so unwaveringly sure that my video-call is going to be crap that I have subliminally decided that I don’t give a hoot.

I think I’m onto something here. That’s why I am rarely on time for a video-meeting. It’s 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.)  

It’s definitely me…

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 it’s not just my fault you’re having shoddy video-meetings! Paul from sales’s 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 you’ll be sent over all the discussion points, word for word, on Slack. This is done just to ensure that the last 1 hour you’ve spend on our ’15 minute’ 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 don’t mean to be, we are just a product of our environment. So enough is enough. Let’s 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 doesn’t die out because we are all useless.

1 – Have a checklist for godsake!

You think this is obvious right? WRONG! I’m not talking about a checklist that you have on your phone, Apple pages, or an email. I’m 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.

2 – Would you be late for a face-to-face?

 

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I doubt it. So why do we do it on Video-calls?! Maybe it’s 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.

3 – Goodbye Skype, hangouts and anything else that’s crap

 

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Urgh. Give me ancient Chinese water torture. ‘Clockwork orange’ me with a season of The Kardashians. Just don’t give me a transatlantic Skype call with average to poor internet connection.

It’s 2017 people. Use video-calling software that works. They do exist!

4 – Don’t check your emails

 

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If you don’t have the information to hand, check after the call and send it over. Don’t faff about disrupting the meeting. Likewise if you’ve asked for something and they don’t have it to hand.

Keep the meeting lean, and sharp. It’s a faff-free zone.

5 – Don’t read articles

 

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You wouldn’t peruse an article during a face-to-face would you!? Maybe you would… But if you wouldn’t, don’t bloody do it in a video-call.

6 – You get the picture. Don’t bloody do anything apart from talk, listen and screenshare

 

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Seems like slight overkill to make 3 points around the same concept. But if overkill is what it takes to get you bloomin’ focused in your weekly meeting then overkill it is. DON’T take notes during the meeting.

You may think that taking notes is a good thing. It isn’t. 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.

7 – Check your tech

 

Don’t be the guy/girl with the pixelated face, resembling that of the world’s worst ever corporate flip-book, whilst giving your best audio impression of The Scatman.

 

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Check that you’ve got good connectivity before jumping on the call otherwise visual-lag, audio-fade and all the other good stuff awaits you. If you’re genuinely concerned about your connection make a quick pre-meeting test call.

8 – Look at the camera. Not yourself

 

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You know when you look at yourself on a video-call you’re 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), you’re not looking at yourself anymore, right?

9 – Don’t wing it with the functionality

 

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Functionality-wise, what does your conference calling software do? What doesn’t it do? Can you do it? Are you in a compatible browser? Are they? Be the authority. It looks good.

10 – If it’s not working, it’s not working!

 

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Guess what? If hangouts just scrambled your call for the 4th time, the 5th call back probably won’t work a treat. 2 strike policy maximum. Then find another way or choose another time.

11 – Lighting!

 

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Have you noticed that dim lights mess up the video clarity? Cool. Then don’t have a video-meeting in dim lights. Good talk.

12 – If someone joins late, acknowledge them but don’t discontinue

 

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Paul from sales just won’t get the memo. Don’t scupper your discussion because he’s tardy. Don’t ruin your flow because he didn’t 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.

13 – Don’t go off script

 

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Stick to your bullet points. Don’t meander. Like this answer.

14 – Settle on a service

 

The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. 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.

15 – Don’t bloomin’ pay for a service that simply works. It’s 2017 people

 

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If you are paying for:

    • A video-calling service that hangs more than the wild-west
    • A video-calling service that can do multi-person calls
    • Video-Calling service that does screenshare efficiently
    • A video-calling service that can be accessed by anyone without signing up.

Stop.

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.

16 – Audio record your calls!

 

Here’s a handy one. This kills many of the efficiency problems you face in one fell swoop. 

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Click a record button and all the note-taking can be done post-call. You look good, they look good and you haven’t killed each other with virtual hatred. It’s win-win.

17 – Be ‘Video-efficient’

 

No this isn’t one of those vague, crappy catchphrases that I’m using because we are getting to the end of the list and I’m trying to get over 20 points in. Promise!

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Basically, text-boxes are evil! Most video-conferencing tools have a text box so you end up with this quasi-text, quasi-speaking  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.

18 – Use efficiency timers

 

Such a simple concept but such a good one. 15 minute timer, 30 minute timer, whatever it is stick to it.

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Do not run over. Keeping an eye on the time will only help in the long run. Efficiency is learnt and productivity sores.

19 – Close your tabs. Close your programs

 

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.

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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.

20 – Make sure your screenshare actually works

 

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If you have a lot of video-calls then it’s pretty likely you’re into screensharing. If you are into screensharing then it’s pretty likely you know how many crap screensharing functions exist. Finding a Video Conference website with a reliable screenshare function is golden.

21 – Follow up email.. always

 

Wait! Don’t just regurgitate what was spoken about in essay form. Don’t render that video-meeting pointless, we beg of you.

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Just a few simple bullet points for clarity and accountability will do.

22 – Don’t be scared to drop to audio

 

Say you’ve done everything right. You’ve 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.

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Well…. don’t hang-up, or reload, or sit there looking at your own pixelated blob of a face with distain. Just switch over to audio. Sure, it’s not the same we know that. But dropping down to audio and continuing the call efficiently trumps helpless faffing.

23 – If they drop to audio DON’T follow suit

 

I get it. Not being able to see them whilst they can see you. It’s creepy. It’s like you’re 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 we’re on to something…

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:

‘Who needs it when you have Slack and Trello, right?’

So wrong. Video-meetings are utterly integral to excellent communication, progressive teamwork, trust and team-coordination, not to mention you’re damn accountable to your team if there’s video! And best of all, these 23 points, they are not… well… Useless.

24 – When on a Video Conference call makes sure you’ve 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 I’m 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. I’ve honestly never felt part of a more efficient and accountable, remote team. Even when I’m calling from my grandma’s desktop.

Freddie Cull
About The Author

Freddie Cull

"Hey! I'm Freddie. I've been in the start-up world nice I was a lil' nipper. Firstly in Beijing where I set up a strategic consultancy for Western brands in China. Then back in the UK setting up online fitness @pressforpt. Here's where my huge fascination with video-software started. TeamTalk is our first step towards seeing how far we can develop it!"

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