With millions of people working from home, video meetings are more important than ever to keep people communicating and collaborating. And with 80 percent of company leaders planning to allow employees to work from home even after the pandemic, it looks as if video conferencing is here to stay. Knowing how best to use video conferencing software can help make your video meetings count—not to mention your employees happier and more productive.
What video conferencing can do
Video conferencing gives all of us more of what we need right now: face-to-face time with coworkers. While it’s nice to focus alone on a project sometimes, not having regular interaction with teams can lower morale and affect attendance and productivity. Here are some of the bigger benefits of hosting video meetings:
- Video conferencing encourages people to interact.
- You can use it to quickly organize a meeting, train new hires, or conduct reviews.
- Seeing people’s expressions improves communications and connects teams.
- Video calls offer better collaboration, boosting morale.
Video conferencing software and basics
Before you host a video conference, there are a few things to consider, namely choosing the right software. Most options have free versions, but many businesses need more bandwidth and features than free video conferencing plans offer. Some have business-level and enterprise-level plans while others come with an array of extras including app integration, webinar functionality, security features, and mobile compatibility. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll want a solution that’s cloud based, enables screen sharing, is mobile friendly, and works easily with people inside and outside of your organization.
Next, you’ll want to get acquainted with the software before any meeting begins. Some solutions come with a demo to walk you through the functionality. It’s also a good idea to read through the FAQ section on the solution’s website.
Making the most of meetings
After you’ve chosen your software and learned how it works, you’re ready to start a meeting. Making them meaningful doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort on your part, but it does require some thoughtful consideration of others. Try these simple ideas to boost participation and productivity:
- Make a habit of dialing in at least five minutes early whether you’re hosting or attending to sort out any technical glitches.
- Keep your camera on and mute your mic if there’s background noise.
- Set an agenda of what to cover and keep an eye on time.
- If you have something to screen share, it’s a good idea to email a copy to another participant in case you run into problems.
- Check in on a personal level before you begin or as you’re wrapping up.
- Use chat or polls to keep people engaged and interacting during the meeting.
- Be proactive and tackle hard topics over video instead of email. A hard conversation done face to face is much more effective than one done in writing.
- Give everyone a role when you can. It’s nice to shift the energy from person to person.
- Keep meetings as short as possible to respect people’s schedules and attention spans.
Avoiding issues and mishaps
We’ve all been there. The call gets dropped, the dog is barking, the screen freezes. Lots of things can throw us off our game during a meeting. Fortunately, some things are easier to fix than others. The right video conferencing software may not get your kids to stop fighting during your presentation, but it can help avoid some of these pitfalls:
Bad connections: Lack of bandwidth or network-related issues are common problems. You might consider adding an ethernet switch and hardwiring your computer directly to it. That way, you won’t have to rely on spotty Wi-Fi.
At-home distractions: It’s hard to find a quiet place to work at home, but noise cancellation equipment is a must for minimizing background noise. You should invest in a headset, earbuds, or a microphone to reduce echoes.
Integration issues: Make sure your video conferencing software is compatible with your existing devices and applications, so you can access calendars, share files, and find contacts more easily.
Security breaches: Communicating in an organization—especially when it’s over video—can open the doors to cyberthreats and attacks. Make sure your software stays up to date with the latest upgrades and that it uses the most recent encryption technology.
Talking over each other: Introverts know the pain well. It’s hard to get a word in edgewise when there are audio delays—not to mention chatty extroverts. Choose a video conferencing solution with a hand-raising function, and be on the lookout for those raised hands throughout your meeting.
Video conferencing at work is here to stay, and a great video meeting is only as good as the software (and host) running it. If you’re not sure which video conferencing software to get, try Microsoft Teams for free or buy Microsoft 365 for business to get started right away. Just don’t forget to turn on your mic when you start talking.