Meetings don’t have to be face-to-face
Embrace the new ‘face-to-face’. As a small, remote working team, we at CreativeIQ are old hands at the video conference, whether it be Zoom, Microsoft Teams or something else. Many people who are used to travelling to an office every day have suddenly found themselves working from home. For some it’s been a fairly seamless transition, for others it’s been fraught with technical difficulties and disastrous (but sometimes hilarious) gaffes and etiquette fails. Our advice? Always wear pants. And don’t assume people can’t see you, even if you think your video is turned off.
Benefits of the video conference
Why has video conferencing become so valuable? While it obviously can’t replace true face-to-face interactions, it provides us with the next best thing if we can’t network in person for whatever reason (*cough* pandemic).
- Most video conferencing platforms have a free version with a paid version that offers additional features.
- It allows you to communicate with several people at the same time without needing to physically be in the same space. This is beneficial even when we aren’t locked down/isolating as the reality is that many businesses have employees spread out in different cities, states or even overseas. It also means you don’t have to put a limit on where your clients come from.
- Theoretically, a discussion could occur over the phone or via email, but one major benefit of video conferencing is that it allows you to talk to people and see their facial expressions and body language at the same time. Words are only one part of communication.
- Video conferencing allows for faster and more efficient collaboration between teams and individuals through features like screen sharing. The results are instant, as opposed to sending a document via email, for example.
- Networking via video conference produces greater engagement than phone calls, emails or other audio or text-based communication. Teams are having social ‘drinks’ via video conference, not to mention families staying in touch in a situation where they might not otherwise be able to. Furthermore, even if you’ve only ever ‘met’ someone through Zoom or the like, when you finally do meet in person, they don’t feel like a stranger because you are able to recognise one another.
Video Conference Etiquette
You should treat a Zoom (or other video conference app) meeting the same way you would a real-life meeting. Just because it’s accessed from the comfort of your own home doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make an effort. Here are some basic rules to follow:
- Be punctual and prepared – It’s inconsiderate and unprofessional to rock up late to a meeting in real life. Don’t do it for a Zoom meeting either. Set a reminder to ensure you log in on time. Also, leave yourself enough time to test out your technology (audio and video) prior to the start time of the meeting.
- Appearances matter – Think about how you would present yourself for the meeting if it was happening face-to-face. Would it be formal/corporate or just business casual? You probably don’t need to look quite as spectacular as you would in a real-life meeting because people won’t notice the details (like hair and makeup). But don’t let yourself believe that it’s ok to rock the ‘business mullet’ either – formal above the table and casual underneath. If you unexpectedly have to stand up, you’ll probably entertain everyone in the meeting but it also won’t look terribly professional.
- Mute yourself when not speaking, especially in a group meeting. There’s usually a button somewhere in the app that allows you to do this easily. The combined background noise from even 5 or 6 different places can equal a lot of white noise that makes it hard to hear what anyone is saying.
- Check your video setup before starting – make sure your camera is angled properly and the lighting is right so that people can see your face. For instance, if the light is behind you, people will only see your silhouette. And be aware of what is in the background.
- Be courteous and respectful to whoever is speaking – just like in a real-life setting, if someone is talking you would (hopefully) not look at your phone, type at your computer or generally not pay attention to them. Same rules apply here.
The future of meetings?
If you’re not yet familiar with video conferencing, it might be worth giving it a go. It’s possible that meetings conducted using Zoom or other video conferencing might become the new ‘normal’, influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the improvement of technology and security by companies like Zoom and Microsoft. Can it completely replace real-life interactions with employees, colleagues and clients? Of course not. But it’s certainly the next best thing.
Where Erin really shines is working with all things words. From crafting the perfect story to share what you do, through to polishing your own creations to bring out the sparkle, her way with words will give you that special buzz when someone nails exactly what you’ve been trying to say but couldn’t quite get there yourself.
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