Did you know that as of mid-April 2020 more than one-third of the world population was under some kind of COVID-19 lockdown? The effect of the virus on human health and economies is truly unprecedented.
COVID-19 has had an impact on many aspects of our lives include the way we communicate. Businesses that flourished because of strong face-to-face communication are now forced to meet over video conference or conference call.
If you would like to ensure that you are giving the best impression possible when you are in a videoconference, what should you pay attention to? What conference call etiquette rules now apply?
Why not a minute to examine a few of these in our in-depth article.
1. Always Prepare an Agenda
Nothing is less productive than an agendaless meeting. While it is true that you can call a meeting over Zoom or Skype in a relatively short time, this does not mean that you should not inform participants of the subject and goals of the meeting.
Creating an agenda is something that everyone can learn. It does not have to be long or complex. However, knowing the purpose of the meeting as clearly as possible ahead of time has many advantages.
The conversation will be generally more focused and not stray on to unnecessary topics. Each participant will likely be able to give better quality responses due to having time to think and prepare relevant documentation.
Agendas also show when a meeting will finish. Having a finite number of topics to cover shows that you value the participant’s time. A disciplined agenda shows that the meeting will finish on time and that each person will be able to use the rest of their working day productively.
2. Report your Absence
In theory, attending a video conference should be much easier than a physical meeting. After all, you can join the meeting from pretty much anywhere that you have an internet connection.
However, a great many people rate lateness to meetings as one of the greatest annoyances on conference calls. If you know you will be late, communicate this to the meeting conductor.
Often meetings cannot start because an individual is 5 minutes late. However, when they arrive other discussions have begun and the meeting is further delayed. This causes both frustration and the feeling that a lack of punctuality is ok.
Reporting delays before the meeting time could allow for the meeting to be deferred. This allows the meeting to start on a professional note and continue that way, albeit a few minutes late.
3. Keep It Relevant
The larger the group of people in the meeting, the more careful and relevant the information presented should be. Attendees should know why they are attending and what is in it for them. This means prioritizing updates, or relevant information, often at the beginning of the meeting.
Participants should be encouraged to use note-taking apps to document relevant information. In a meeting of 30 minutes, there may be just 1 minute of material that they will have to personally apply. It can be more difficult to pay attention to conference call meetings and important information like this can easily be missed.
4. Test Equipment
Nothing screams unprofessional than technical hitches that you could have avoided. Preparing and testing equipment far ahead of time is a basic principle of conference calls and video conferences. This is a basic list of checks to perform:
- Check signal strength.
- Remove sources of interference.
- Set up a cabled connection rather than Wi-Fi.
- Ensure the computer camera works and is uncovered.
- Test the speakers and Microphone.
- Perform a test meeting with a participant, even if the technology seems to be working.
- Communicate with all presenters to check if they have any AV materials in their presentations.
5. Be Prepared
If the meeting conductor has prepared an agenda, it is your responsibility to prepare for the meeting. Just because the other meeting participants do not see your notes and preparation, doesn’t mean that you do have to prepare. Not preparing is a missed opportunity to learn or share information.
This also means preparing your location. If you are working from home, you should close doors in the background so that passers-by are not seen. Avoid a background with walls that are too busy with artwork or other items and if possible choose a location with natural light.
6. Choose a Quiet Location
Ensuring that your meeting location is quiet is easier said than done. If you share accommodation you are likely not the only one working from home, or there may be children in the house.
Even if you have a quiet house there is always the temptation to work with your favorite album in the background. This has led some to take extreme measures and ask “how do I cancel Apple Music” or another video or music streaming service?
You can be called into a meeting at any time. Keeping the music off during work time will allow you to concentrate more fully and also be ready for the boss to call you unexpectedly
Conference Call Etiquette and Much More
We currently live in a world where most if not all business communications are done via videoconference. Making the right impression, communicating effectively, and retaining stakeholder attention call for conference call etiquette rules.
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