The COVID-19 crisis has certainly thrown our world upside down. As many are working from home, finding a work-groove at home or with a limited staff in the office, has likely been a challenge. Adding kids, spouses, and unconventional business operations to the mix creates a whole new level of chaos that many were not prepared for.
Meeting with your team while you are stuck at home or in an empty office is a must for most businesses and, fortunately, technology is an invaluable resource that makes this possible, whether in a crisis or not.
Team LŪM has been using Zoom for virtual meetings since our inception. As working remotely is our every-day practice, we felt it appropriate to share some of our top tips to ease the anxiety you might have about using technology to connect with your team and clients. Here are a few of our tried and trues:
- Wear Pants – You may be laughing at this one, but truer words have never been spoken. While working from home has its perks, including wearing what you want (or don’t want to wear), video conferencing is not one of those times. Take the time to get yourself ready for that meeting, especially when it’s with a client and save the sweats for your team. Not only will you feel better about being ready for the day, but if you happen to stand up for anything, you won’t be caught with your pants off. Another word to the wise: let your family know you are in a video meeting so they don’t walk in wearing only their underwear in front of your colleagues.
- Test Your Video Settings Beforehand – Nothing is worse than being prepared to start a meeting and then finding out your video or audio won’t connect. Avoid this stress by testing your video and sound settings before your meeting starts so you aren’t fumbling with the controls instead of participating in the meeting.
- Create an agenda – Just like you would for any in-person meeting, create an agenda for everyone to follow along with. It’s okay to take some time to say hello and catch up for a few minutes, but be ready to reel everyone back in so you can be as efficient as possible so you are not wasting anyone’s time.
- Give Everyone a Chance to Speak – Video conferencing is different than other meetings because there are many distractions on the other side of the screen. Additionally, people may start talking at the same time and then no one speaks because they’re afraid they’ll talk over someone. When you ask a question to your team, consider calling on each person to answer, rather than leaving it open. Calling upon each team member will allow them to accept or decline the offer to give input but will likely encourage a more thoughtful discussion.
- Use the Mute Button – Background noise causes distractions that are tougher to avoid at home, such as a barking dog, a doorbell or any family members that are also at home. When you’re not speaking or being called upon utilize the mute button to keep the distractions to a minimum, because we know that dogs, kids, and other unanticipated noise will come up when you least need it.
- Turn Your Video On - Let’s face it, none of us like to see ourselves on camera, but having no video is worse! No one wants to talk to a logo or black screen. Let yourself be seen. The goal of video conferencing is to see each other, otherwise you could just use the phone. At a time when we most need human interaction, it’s good to see the friendly faces of our team and clients; you’d be surprised what a boost that can be. Plus, nonverbal communication speaks volumes! It’s comforting to get a head nod or see eye contact from a colleague or client, just as in-person, so keep that camera on!
- Give Some Grace – No one can control what is going to happen during a video meeting. Keep in mind that everyone is in this together. We are all dealing with our family walking in behind us, even if we told them not to enter during the meeting. Dogs aren’t going to stop barking because your CEO has the floor. Internet speed and technology is not the same across the board. So even when we are doing what we can to be graceful during a video conference, we need to keep in mind that things happen and practice patience and understanding for life’s interruptions.
Technology has made connecting easier in any relationship, but it has also allowed those working from home a chance to stay productive and connect with their team. Don’t be afraid to use these programs and tools to your advantage during and after this time of social distancing.