The advent of the video conference is here to stay. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have live face to face meetings and conferences anymore. It does mean that we are all going to be forced to make video conference part of our daily lives.
Whether you work in a small business or a multi-national company, video conferencing will be the wave of the future and as internet speeds and technology improve so will the features.
Until that time there are some basic ins and outs to make your video conference more effective and keep your groups active an engaged throughout the meeting.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- More is not better.
What we mean by more is both people and content. Attempting to put too many people and too much content into the video conference isn’t always the best idea.
For one thing seeing everyone as they twitch around and move into their screens is visually distracting. Our eyes are designed to take visual cues and send them to our brains to process information, too much movement is like information overload. I compare it to walking into a bustling crowd of people and then attempting to get everyone to stop and listen to you and what you’re saying. If you need to get a large group of people into a meeting, it’s not necessary to have them all portrayed on a screen.
The most effective video conferences tend to have a smaller number of people. While there is no magic number, you can decide for yourself what you feel is the best number of participants to have the biggest impact.
If you must include a large group, one great feature for making a larger group much smaller is to have breakout rooms periodically. This simple digital trick can allow for truly meaningful connections and discussions instead of people talking over each other in a larger group setting.
- Look for ways to make the virtual conference interactive
Forwarding a handout of some meaningful information can help make the session more interactive and you can refer to the handout on the screen to take a deeper dive into some of the material.
Building in simple polling questions can create a fun and interesting way to keep your virtual audience engaged and allow them to feel like it’s more of a two-way presentation instead of just a talking head spewing out information.
If your virtual platform allows for it, use Breakout rooms to allow for one on one or small group discussions then have each group report out once they re-enter the larger group. It’s an easy way to make the session more inclusive and interactive as many are not yet comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas in the larger virtual setting.
You can always ask for questions ahead of time as many are uncomfortable using the share or raise hand features during the actual presentation. This can make the process a bit more experiential and less like a lecture hall.
- Don’t attempt to take what you would normally do in a live setting a present the session the same way.
Many skilled presenters and facilitators are struggling to grasp this new virtual format. Physical gestures, movement, some types of humor, and your normal presentation structures do not always translate seamlessly to a virtual session. If you watched any of your favorite talk show hosts early in the pandemic, you have probably noticed how they struggled to get comfortable without the immediate feedback of a live audience to let them know how they were doing.
When you design your presentation, plan on having ZERO feedback from your audience. You may be extremely funny or have parts of your presentation that have always elicited a strong reaction from your audience in the past, but in the virtual setting please prepare yourself for dead silence after certain sections. This doesn’t mean you are not connecting so don’t let it throw your off your game, just give the normal pause and then plow forward.
The good news is that whether your piece hit the mark or wasn’t even close- you will never know.
- Slow Down-
When presenting in a live format, many are able to get away with talking much too fast because their energy matches their tempo. Unfortunately, in a virtual setting your physical energy will not translate as well through the digital format so most of the time the only thing your audience can pay attention to is your voice.
Your tone and tempo really matter in the new format, so pay attention to it. Record yourself prior to the session if needed so you can pay attention to your voice inflection and how fast or slow you are speaking.
- Take a few minutes to create a decent looking background for yourself.
I’m sure we’ve all seen a Virtual participant with a sloppy, shabby backdrop behind them. This may not seem like a big deal, but remember this is a visual medium, and people make judgements and assessments about what they see based on the information available to them. We don’t have to go crazy and hire an interior decorator, but hanging a picture or two wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- Have fun-
This video conference isn’t perfect yet, and we haven’t all mastered it either. You are going to make some mistakes, sites can crash, people will freeze up or get bumped off. Someone will almost always forget to mute while they are having a conversation with a family member or a pet. Things will happen, just like in a live setting, so it’s ok to have a laugh, usually at yourself. My advice if you make a mistake is the same as it would be if you were presenting live
– Smile big into the camera, and just move on.
Cheers to your Video Conferencing
Once Quarter Turn at a Time
Thoughts for the week:
“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” – Lionel Messi
“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” – Anonymous
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”– William G.T. Shedd
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, ‘Faster horses’.” – Henry Ford.
Looking forward to our next connection