Posted by: on February 19, 2021 at 1:00 pm

Coloful illustration of video meeting, cartoony laptop displays 12 faces on screen.

8 ways to improve your next video meeting.

Whether your team uses Zoom, Teams, Slack or some other platform, we can all improve our skills when it comes to video meetings.

After all, 79% of North American office workers are still working from home. This is reflected in the vast growth of videoconferencing platforms. While Skype use declined, Microsoft Teams more than made up for it, with 391% growth in use from February through December last year. Others saw far more dramatic growth.

And with that increased use comes… complications. Nearly a year into the US pandemic, many workers are still having trouble. By now, we’ve probably all seen the “Cat Lawyer” video from a couple weeks ago. While it may be cute (and hilarious), no one wants an accidental cat filter, or – worse – a security breach because of a video meeting. Here are some tips to improve your next video meeting:

Improve Security for Video Meetings

Most businesses recognize the need for keeping essential data as secure as possible. In addition, most individuals are concerned with their own personal privacy. Don’t undermine these efforts with sloppy video meeting etiquette.

So, think about what’s in your background. Not your personal history, but your visible physical background. Is your camera facing your university diploma? A whiteboard with sensitive company information? Your pinboard featuring the sticky note with your home or office Wi-Fi password?

Beyond your own personal security, hackers can use personal information about you in social engineering and phishing scams. It’s easier to impersonate you as the owner of your business if a hacker knows your university, degree, and the town you currently live in. Personal information in your video background can reveal password hints or actual passwords. These weak passwords can be used in “credential stuffing” to yield unauthorized access to your accounts.

Be background aware to improve security for your video meetings.

Another concern is shared use. Should you allow your staff to use business computers for personal use? Your business should clearly define what is acceptable use for business equipment. In the case of the “cat lawyer,” he was using his assistant’s laptop. His assistant’s young daughter also used that laptop. The cat filter was an inadvertent side effect of sharing the laptop with non-staff.

Clarifying your shared use policies can improve video meeting security as well.

Improve Productivity and Engagement in Video Meetings

No one wants to see a talking head blathering on, or a series of slides that the presenter reads word-for-word. So, how can you improve collaboration in your virtual meetings?

First of all, did you know that several video meeting platforms, including Zoom and Microsoft Teams include a whiteboard feature? Whiteboards can provide on-the-fly notes, brainstorming, even group sketching. Using whiteboards to gather the input of several participants can increase productivity and engagement in video meetings.

Another video brainstorming tool that is often overlooked is chat. While some businesses turn off chat for video meetings, thinking of it as a pointless distraction, chat can be used productively for constructive input and comments, as well as the creative collaboration that often comes out of chat-only forums (such as Slack and Teams Chat). Chat often runs in a sidebar, keeping the speaker’s video as the main focus. However, it can be used to gauge understanding and provide clarity with further explanation. Consider using your platform’s chat feature to boost the creative output of your video meetings.

Backgrounds for Video Meetings

We’ve already discussed privacy security concerns from items in your video background. But setting up an interesting background overwhelms some people. You don’t have to master the latest Instagram aesthetic to have a decent video background. Simply decluttering your busy background can make a big difference. If you feel your background is boring, add a plant or a piece of art. And there’s nothing wrong with a plain wall or curtain. After all, you want participants focusing on you, not trying to work out if you’ve actually read all those books on your background shelf.

Another option is a virtual background. These can run the gamut from nature to TV show sets to normal office settings. While there are endless options here, please consider that your background can look professional, or it can give the wrong impression about your work ethic. Choose wisely.

Using Video Meeting Platforms for Team Building Events

The virtual happy hour seems to have run its course. Not everyone drinks, and it’s hard to have a conversation when people are talking over each other. How can help your team come together over videoconferencing?

Structured events are often better when dealing with the restrictive, one-speaker-at-a-time format of video chat. Online games often have a group play option. Collaborative events like virtual escape rooms allow smaller groups to work together and build rapport. A cooking or other online class might appeal to much of your staff, while providing some down time together.

Another option is a virtual meeting space. Gather.Town is easy to set up using their pre-set spaces, and inexpensive with limited use. Guests use 2-D avatars to move around, triggering proximity chats when they get close enough to each other. Designated areas can display posters, whiteboards, and video links. Private spaces allow for personal chats, while broadcasting allows one person to address the whole group.

8 Tips to Improve Your Next Video Meeting

In summary, here are the 8 tips to improve your video meetings:

  1. Be aware of potential security risks in your physical background.
  2. Define shared use policies for company equipment.
  3. Whiteboards enhance group collaboration.
  4. Likewise, using chat during the meeting can help with brainstorming and clarification.
  5. Dress up (or down) your video background.
  6. Or, use a professional virtual background.
  7. Structured events often work better than free-for-all team building meetings.
  8. A virtual space can provide a more organic team building experience.

Whether you’re new to video meetings, or just need some tips to take your meetings to the next level, we hope these tips help improve your next video meeting.

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

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