Like so many of you working from home, I spent a lot of time on Zoom this week.
The good news about video conference meetings is you use the same skills you would in a face-to-face meeting. Just make a few adjustments to deal with technology.
Get yourself comfortable on video.
Video is a new medium for many leaders and they are understandably self-conscious about it. Think about the first time you heard your own voice recorded. It just feels strange. It can be hard to host a video conference if you’re distracted by checking yourself out on the screen instead of focusing on your team.
I had one leader tell me she practiced getting used to video by using the Marco Polo app. It’s like a walkie talkie of video. You send a video to a person or group and they reply with a video of their own. When I mentioned I was self-conscious about how the app stores all the videos, this leader said, “Do you go back and delete all your texts?” Video is everywhere now. It’s good practice for me to think about it as one more medium for communication. Other people aren’t taking me as seriously on video as I am.
Plus most software offers an option for you to hide yourself from your screen so others can see you but you’re not looking at yourself on display. That way you can focus on your team instead of trying not to check on your own image the whole time.
Look at the camera – not at the screen.
When at all possible, look at the camera. It’s the closest semblance you can get to eye contact.
Learn the software together.
There is a wide range of skill and experience when it comes to using video conference software. For some of your people, it’s old hat. For others, the learning curve is steep and intimidating.
Take some time in your next meeting to walk through the how-to’s. Say things like “To mute yourself so we can’t hear your papers shuffle, click the icon in the lower left corner.” Your old hat participants will enjoy showing what they know and your less experienced people will be grateful for the information. I was in a conference last week where an experienced Zoom user sent the group into a fit of giggles and immediate clicking when they pointed out the “touch up my appearance” feature.
Video conference is a medium where truly only one person can talk at a time. Use this to your advantage by slowing down. Help the less-likely-to-contribute know when it’s a good time for them to talk. Your over talkers may need some guidance about leaving space/pause for others to find their place in the conversation.
And don’t be afraid of silence. (This is also good advice for face-to-face meetings.) Your group will probably need permission for that since it’s our cultural expectation to always have input, especially when a screen is involved. Permission giving might sound like “Let’s take a minute to think about that before anybody says anything.”
Have a clear purpose for the meeting.
We’ve all been in meetings where something could have been handled in one email. Create your agenda by focusing on things that involve the whole team. Sometimes the team can help one or two members solve a problem they’re working on. Sometimes those one or two people can just work on the problem themselves and report the solution to the group. It’s the leader’s job to set them up for success whatever that looks like.
Building connection between team members should be a purpose in every meeting. Sometimes you do that with an overt team building activity. Sometimes it’s accomplished by the group collectively working on a project. It’s the leader’s job to know what your team needs to build that connection.
And send out an agenda ahead of time. Your team will benefit from knowing what to focus on.
Start with checking in on how people are doing.
We often start meetings (face-to-face meetings and virtual meetings) with one of these conversations.
Wrap up with clear next steps.
Give a sum up of what decisions were made in the meeting and which tasks were assigned to which person.
Read more articles about leadership, self-awareness, and team building.
In the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, you can enjoy a Quick Read to pause, learn and grow.