7 Stupid-Simple Ways to Improve Video Calls & Virtual Meetings
Meeting with clients, building rapport, and effectively communicating with them can help to ensure a successful partnership towards a mutual goal.
With technology evolving quickly, we’re gifted continuously with powerful tools that enable “meetings” with clients from all over the world, without ever leaving your home or office. Using these tools effectively and knowing what to do or not do in a video call or virtual meeting can make a huge difference in their experience and success.
Here are some stupid-simple ways to ensure your client video calls and virtual meetings are successful.
1. JOIN EARLY
The ideal atmosphere for a video call or virtual meeting is one of calm. The easiest way to create peace from the beginning is by joining early. Being early indicates that you are respectful of your client’s time, prepared, and allows you to greet other participants as they “arrive” or join the meeting. Joining early also allows you to ensure that your equipment is up to date and working correctly. Check your webcam, mic, and sound for the proper function to avoid awkward malfunctions that can cause delays. To go the extra mile, consider sharing your screen from the start. Pull up a document with a cute gif and caption, an inspirational or thought-provoking quote, funny cartoon, or even the agenda. Doing this gives participants something to look at until everyone arrives and helps to set the tone for the call.
2. USE AN AGENDA
Using an agenda shows that you are organized and helps to make sure you don’t miss anything throughout the meeting. When building your schedule, try to order topics in a natural progression, so that it’s easier to transition from one item to the next. Make sure to send the agenda to your client in advance so they have time to review and make their additions or changes before the call.
Whenever possible, stick to the agenda during the meeting. If you get off-topic, guide the conversation back on track. Suggest tabling the discussion for the end of the call if time permits or adding it to the agenda for the next call. Before you end the call, review the agenda, and highlight the status or result of each item. Review the topic, what decisions were made, and what action, if any, is needed.
3. PREPARE AND KNOW THE MATERIAL
The more you know about each topic on the agenda, the more confident you will be. When you are knowledgeable on a subject, it will help you to be direct and concise when talking to any client, which will save everyone time. Prepare visuals to keep participants’ attention, use reports, presentations, videos, or anything that will enhance real-time collaboration. Being prepared allows you to get answers to your questions on your own time and to find issues and resolutions before the client sees or knows about them. Coming prepared with a proposed solution to a problem shows the client you have initiative and are on top of their account. Being prepared also helps you to avoid awkward or dead air. While pauses are necessary, extended periods of dead air can be uncomfortable for everyone.
4. TURN THE VIDEO ON AND USE IT CORRECTLY
Ever had a video call that left you feeling uncomfortable or unsettled? Likely the other person never seemed to be making eye contact with you, and you weren’t sure if they were even paying attention. Awkward!
When not set up correctly, using the webcam can cause a disconnect that can do more harm than good to the relationship. Some are looking at the video feed but since it’s in an awkward place, it feels like they are never making eye contact, which is disconcerting. That’s not to say that using video during a call is terrible. When used correctly, having the video on during calls can be a powerful tool that supports more effective communication, building stronger relationships.
When using a video during a call, minimize the video window, and move it directly under your webcam. Having the video just under your webcam gives you a natural and comfortable place to rest your eyes, which allows you to “make eye contact” with the other participants. Making eye contact creates an emotional connection and will help you to build a rapport with the client. Even if they don’t have their video on, they’ll still feel like you are making eye contact with them, which will have the same effect, even if it’s just one way. When using video during a call, remember always to be yourself. . Don’t fidget, talk with your hands or play with your hair; these habits are distracting and give the impression that you aren’t sure of yourself.
5. MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS
Your clients deserve your undivided attention. Minimizing distractions for yourself and them is a quick and easy way to improve the quality of your meetings.
- Turn off your desktop notifications.
- Close unnecessary tabs and programs.
- Turn on the Do Not Disturb function on your interoffice chat and office phone.
- Put your cell phone away; this will help you to avoid the temptation to check your emails or texts when someone else is talking.
- Don’t multitask during the call.
Giving the meeting your full attention will show your support to your teammates and ensure you don’t miss anything important. When you’re on a video call, make sure that there isn’t anything distracting going on in the background. Zoom offers a virtual background that allows displaying a virtual image behind you during a meeting. When you have limited control over your environment, taking advantage of features like this will help to minimize distractions like people walking by. When working from home, try to make sure pets are penned up as far from you as possible. Decreasing the opportunity for the distraction from barking, pets getting up to mischief, or trying to jump on your lap.
Communication is a two-way street. Remember, you aren’t just there to talk and share your thoughts; you also need to listen to what the client is telling you.
When someone else is speaking, make eye contact and try to picture what they are saying in your head to help focus your thoughts. Try to remember keywords or phrases to assist your recall. Try to pay attention to what they are saying instead of rehearsing or thinking of a response. Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking; it’s just rude. Let clients tell their part and when they pause, rephrase what was said back to them or ask questions to ensure you understand. Be aware of body language and non-verbal queues, sometimes what your clients don’t say is just as important as what they do say. Be aware that when you aren’t listening, it’s likely that they can tell by your expression, body language, and non-verbal queues as well.
7. SEND A RECAP
Sometimes what you do after a call or meeting is just as important as what you do during the event itself. Sending a recap or summary afterward ensures that everyone is on the same page. A recap should succinctly review each topic; this can be a simple as bullet points. Make sure to include any action items, the individual or team responsible, and any critical deadlines. Note anything miscellaneous that came up during the conversation that needs follow-up. If you had to table something for a later time, include it in the recap. If available, consider including a copy of the recording for those that need to review the call. It’s especially helpful if someone wasn’t able to join, or had to step out at any point. A recap will also be an excellent starting off point for reference when creating your next agenda.
Remember, video calls and virtual meetings don’t have to be a nightmare. Create an agenda and follow it. Prepare and know the material. Be early and set the tone. Don’t be camera-shy. Minimize distractions for you and the client. Use your listening skills. Always follow up with a recap. Utilizing these seven tips will help you to build stronger relationships with your clients through more effective communication. They’ll also help you to provide your clients with some excellent service!
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This article was originally published on the Red Branch Media Blog by Andrea Pohlsander.