How to get good at video meetings

Being good at meetings is an underrated skill in the business world. Getting your video meeting game on point requires a little more time and effort to perfect, but with the growth of remote working and video conferencing it’s going to be valuable.

The Vestd team works remotely and video meetings are a big part of how we communicate internally, as well as with customers and prospects. So I wanted to share a few tips that work for us.

The standard things that make a face-to-face meeting go well still apply in video meetings, things like…

  • Sharing an agenda beforehand
  • Sticking to the agenda
  • Having materials ready to go
  • Summarising agreed outcomes
  • Assigning action points to people

And then there are new things to plan and actions to master to make sure you’re ready to be a fully skilled-up remote worker.

What’s wrong with a phone call?

Having a meeting through a video platform can get rid of some of the horrors that can come with conference calls. You’ll be all too familiar with figuring out who’s speaking, trying to jump in on a point, not knowing which chart the speaker is referring to from your pre-meeting email. Making the meeting visual means anyone can show they want to speak, you know who’s talking and when, and screens can be easily shared.

Video meetings can also be part of the trust building that goes into remote and flexible working arrangements. When you have your weekly catch up you can see that your team member is engaged in the conversation, they can present their work to you and get valuable feedback, and in general remind each other of the rapport that you’ve got.

We run a daily stand-up, where the whole team gets together via a Slack video call. Because we work remotely, these short meetings are sacrosanct and all staff are strongly encouraged to show up for them.     

What do I need for successful video meetings?

There are basics that you need to master to get good at video meetings, like with any soft skill. They should become second nature in the same way that taking a notepad into a meeting is now. Some might sound obvious but if you spend your working hours in cafés or wearing pyjamas in your home office, you need to get prepared.

Location

It sounds obvious, but worth touching on – be in the right place to have a video meeting. Strolling down the high street or in the middle of a bustling co-working space isn’t going to make things easy for anyone. Choose a place that is:

  • Quiet
  • Well lit
  • Closed off
  • Has a neutral background

So that you can concentrate and everyone else isn’t going to be distracted by funky patterns that make their screen pulsate.

Tech specs

When you’re actually setting up the video meeting, make sure that everyone knows the platform they need to use, and have the right IDs. In the world of Bring Your Own Device, make sure you choose something that’s as universal as possible, for example:

  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
  • Skype
  • Slack

And check that it can do everything you want such as screen sharing, live recording, etc.

Hardware

Avoid doing video meetings on mobile phones – they can be difficult to get the right angle and lighting and the wide angles on the cameras can give weird perspectives. Sitting at a desk with a laptop or desktop and attached webcam will give the best stability. It also means you can hardwire your internet connection to get steady speeds.

You might want to use headphones with a mic as well, this can stop feedback loops and make it easier for you block out any distractions.

Prior preparation

Once you’ve got your weapon of choice for video meetings, you need to master it so you look sleek to your meeting attendees. There’s going to plenty of features to get to grips with and YouTube tutorials are going to be your friend.

Get yourself adept at sharing screens, adding participants, muting like a boss, inviting participants, and recording the meeting. Being able to conduct the software will make things flow easier, and if you’ve asked your client to use your chosen platform you want to make them feel as comfortable as possible with an unfamiliar system.

Once you can ring the bells and blow the whistles in general, it’s time to get ready for the meeting. Much like a face-to-face, you need to get prepared. Some new things you need to consider are:

  • Checking file formats and making sure that everyone coming into the meeting is going to be able to access what you want to share
  • Reduce file sizes so that content transfer is going to be smooth and not cause lag on the connection
  • Have links and details ready in a notepad so that they can easily be dropped into the chat function when needed – you don’t want to be doing search>copy>paste mid-meeting
  • Turn off notifications and anything else that could jump on to your screen whilst on the call

Get your head in the game

Once in the video meeting, of course the standard rules of meeting etiquette apply. There are more things to consider to keep things smooth as well as engaging. The first thing that you need to make sure happens is that the meeting is recorded. No matter how much notice you give, the chances of last-minute apologies are high so be ready to record and share it later.

We’ve already touched on it, but screen sharing is one of the major benefits of a video call. Make it worthwhile – a boring PowerPoint is just as boring on video as it is in real life. You’ll know from the images of the attendees if you’ve got their attention, take this as feedback and work to improve on the next call if needed.

Only bring people into the meeting the people who need to be there. One of the biggest bug bears of a conference call is too many people jumping in and things getting convoluted and messy. Don’t let your video meetings get this way. You can always record the audio and screens, to share the meeting with anyone who needs to know what was discussed.

Final thoughts

If you’re already a star meeting host, you’re most of the way there to wowing your team and clients at video meetings too. The key things you need to learn are getting to know your software and preparing things on a more technical level. You might have never thought whether to save as a .png or .jpg before, but watching things like file sizes will be the touch that makes everything go that little bit smoother.

With remote and flexible working growing, and hiring freelancers and contractors who work across borders becoming more normal, finding a way to keep a team connected can be a challenge. Making a video meeting interesting, productive, and to the point is a great way to keep your team on track to achieve your business goals.