Let’s Connect: Three Best Practices for Meaningful Video Calls

When the pandemic hit, the phrase “let’s connect,” took on a new meaning. As physical meetings ceased, we traded conference rooms for virtual rooms and soon, “let’s connect” became “let’s Zoom.” While we are still social distancing, we face the reality that video conferencing is here to stay and will remain a large part of how we connect with friends, family, and work colleagues. The problem is, are we really connecting?

By now we’ve all read the standard tips and tricks and have moved past how to mute our microphones or change our backgrounds. Yet, we’re still losing connection, not with our WiFi, but with each other. I recently logged onto a call for a school project, ready to see my classmate’s faces, and was met with a PowerPoint. It felt cold and unwelcoming and I realized, so did I. Users of Zoom and other video conferencing platforms are reporting that they struggle to engage people in their meetings and even stay focused themselves. 

Is it still possible to feel that connection on a video call and to finish a virtual meeting feeling invigorated rather than depleted? Absolutely! Here are a few tips to help break down those virtual barriers and create connections. 

Icebreakers and Introductions 

Why is it we’re so relaxed at a meeting in the office or even on a video call with our friends, but a video call with colleagues or clients starts with awkward silence that makes people uncomfortable from the get-go? Setting aside a few minutes upfront for some small talk and for people to introduce themselves will help others feel more comfortable on the call.

To get people interacting, have everyone introduce their pets in the room or throw out some fun trivia questions at the beginning of the meeting. People connect to people and a few easy icebreakers may help fuel some great conversations and relationships even virtually. After all, if we were in the office, we would’ve found time to ask about that crazy storm or those weekend plans anyway. 

Stop looking at yourself 

Watching yourself on Zoom calls all day can be mentally exhausting. Imagine being in a conference room and looking at a cardboard cutout of yourself while trying to talk with your boss or give a presentation to others. On Zoom, it’s easy to hide yourself; right-click your video to display the menu, then choose Hide Myself.

Keep the ideas flowing 

Brainstorming is one of those areas where video conferencing can have an advantage over in-person meetings. If people know your video meeting is being recorded and will be available to review later on, they’ll be more focused on listening with curiosity rather than trying to take notes word-for-word. During brainstorming sessions, ideas can get thrown around quickly, and it’s not uncommon for others to miss an idea or lose a chance to speak up. Using the chat feature or enabling breakout rooms on video calls is another great way to free the team up and let ideas flow.

With a little planning and imagination, virtual meetings can help us see our colleagues in a more personal light. Make your virtual office everything it can be and start connecting.

 

Samuel Yujuico is an Intern at Bond Moroch.

 

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