2020 has thrown us a lot of obstacles and getting used to video conferencing is just one of them. Simple team meetings have changed from gathering in the office, to online virtual rooms and this can be a lot for some people to get used to. There is an array of different software out there, some free and some with monthly subscriptions, finding what works for your business is the best first step.
The first hurdle I always find when video conferencing, is the lag when people are speaking which always leads to someone being spoken over. This leads to a lot of confusion, and sometimes the meeting going off track. It is important, just as in a face to face meeting, to make sure someone oversees the meeting, someone who can bring the meeting back to its agenda and keep everyone on track. This can also make sure everyone has a chance to share their ideas. In certain software, for example in Zoom, the person who runs the meeting (host) is also able to mute other members, make separate groups for people and manage who enters the meeting. This can be very effective for helping to manage a larger meeting with many staff, allowing the person in charge to keep control of the meeting and keeping everyone on track. Zoom offers a free plan where you can have group calls with 3 participants or more, but these are limited to 40 minutes and after this there is a charge, or this can be upgraded for a monthly fee.
Technical difficulties are a big part of video calls not working. This can be anything from a weak internet connection, the webcam not working or the audio dropping out. Even extreme case of camera filters turning on and participants not being able to get them off. Keeping a professional image can be hard when it feels like the technology is against you. It is important to keep patient during these times, being able to laugh these things off and allowing extra time for meetings to get started just in case these difficulties occur.
Finding a software can be the most time-consuming part of video conferencing. When working from home not everyone will have Windows, some may be using Mac or alternative systems. Finding software which is supported by all systems is important in making sure everyone can be included in the video calls. Skype for business offers a great way for a business to get everyone together and not only video call but use the chat facilities during the day to stay in contact. If your team does have Office 365 accounts Teams can be a great way to create individual groups where staff can chat, you can organise break time chats that staff can opt to and create feeds where you can begin discussion. This can help bring some normality back to the working day being able to chat with colleagues. You can also use Teams for conference calls, if someone joining the call does not have an Office 365 accounts, they are able to join as guest if they are invited by the meeting host.
The possibilities of which software to use are endless, one which we may all be using on a day to day basis is WhatsApp. Helping us keep in touch with not only family this can be a great way to set up a video conference with an app everyone is already comfortable with. WhatsApp allows you to have up to 4 people join an encrypted video call with no time limit. Since people are used to using this App it may feel less of jump into video conferencing and ease people into this changing world.
During these times it is vital to keep in touch with your team, not only for your business but to be able to check in and see everyone is doing okay. Although video conferencing may not be ‘your thing’, and it may not be the way you would like to communicate, it does offer a wide range of benefits to bring people together. Use this time to have fruitful conversation, see what new ideas you can brainstorm and make the most of your team while we all work from different areas.