Is Your Business Making the Most of Video Conferencing? Helpful Tips for Small Business Owners

With more people working from home, there has also been a dramatic rise in the number of businesses using video conferencing as one of their preferred forms of communication. 

Recent studies and surveys have shown that video meetings can increase productivity in a number of ways. 

But, if you want to get the most out of video conferencing, there are some guidelines you should follow to ensure each and every virtual meeting is efficient and productive.

Do These 8 Things To Run Effective Video Meetings

1. Test your technology before you begin a video conference

Nothing detracts from the productivity of a virtual meeting like technical problems with your audio, video, or internet connection.

To avoid meeting delays and awkward moments, make sure to test your video meeting software and hardware, including headphones, speakers, microphones, and cameras before every video conference.

2. Come prepared (as you would for in-person meetings)

Another surefire way to delay a meeting and reduce its productivity is to come unprepared. Make sure you have all your important notes, files, and tabs on hand and open, so you can easily find what you need when you’re participating in a video meeting.

If you’re the meeting organizer, it’s a good idea to create a meeting agenda beforehand that outlines all the things you need to talk about. You can refer to this to keep the meeting moving along and cover all your topics in the allotted time.

3. Keep distractions out of the background

With so many people working from home, it’s easy for background distractions to interrupt meetings. 

While a child or dog jumping in front of the camera may be entertaining, it also sidetracks discussions and wastes time. 

If you’re attending a video meeting from home, pick a quiet, distraction-free place to log in to the meeting.

Avoid rooms with other people, pets, or loud noises from the street outside, for example.

It’s also a good idea to remove items from the background that could distract others, (and make you look unprofessional) such as piles of laundry or dirty dishes. When in doubt, sit in front of a blank wall or set a neutral digital background to avoid distracting others in your video meetings.

4. Connect to meetings early

It’s a best practice to log in to video conferences at least five minutes early, to avoid slowing down their start.

If you’re a manager, it’s especially important to show up early to set a good example for your team and set a precedent of everyone showing up on time. That way, you can get down to business right away and cover all the ground you need to in your virtual meetings.

5. Set expectations

The best way to ensure everyone’s participation in virtual meetings is to set expectations ahead of time. 

Send out your meeting agenda and specify things like who will talk about what. This ensures everyone in attendance has an opportunity to prepare and won’t be caught off guard during a meeting.

Depending on how complex the topics of your meetings are, you should send out information about them a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks beforehand. 

You can be the judge of how far ahead of time to do this, but just make sure to give everyone ample warning if they need to prepare detailed notes or presentations for a meeting.

6. Standardize your meeting format

Video meetings are most effective when their format is predictable. Of course, every meeting will be a little different, but it’s a good practice to have a general flow nailed down.

For example, in larger meetings, you may start with short introductions from everyone in attendance to break the ice and provide context.

Then, you move on through all the points of your meeting agenda, and wrap up by summarizing everything discussed. Make sure to call out and emphasize any action items decided on and specify who is responsible for what at the end of the meeting, too.

For particularly long meetings, you may want to incorporate short breaks into the meeting format, so people can get up and stretch, go to the bathroom, or just collect their thoughts.

7. Keep meetings within the specified time slot

Allowing meetings to drag on past their time messes up everyone’s schedules and hurts your team’s overall productivity, so make sure to end meetings on time.

Even if you weren’t able to cover all the topics you wanted to, resist the temptation to just keep going. Instead, set another meeting to focus on those topics with only the relevant people, and let everyone else get back to work.

8. Record important meetings

Recording meetings is a great way to preserve knowledge, so you can refer back to it later or so anyone who missed the meeting can watch it later and get caught up. 

Certain meetings, such as presentations regarding company culture, technology, or processes, even make for excellent training material for new employees.

Just make sure to inform everyone that you’re going to record a meeting if you plan on doing so, as it’s never okay to record people without them knowing it.