LIGHTS, CAMERA, CONFERENCE CALL
17th February, 2021
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Twleve months ago, ‘ZOOM’ was just a 1960s comic-book exclamation — Adam West bat-fight, anyone?
And yet, within a matter of weeks, the video conferencing app — of the same name — has redefined how we communicate and virtually ‘meet’ during this time of isolation. Whether this is your first video conference rodeo or you’re a virtual veteran, there are things you can do to improve your technique, whether you’re using Zoom, Whereby, Skype or Microsoft Teams.
But what then next? Tips and tricks are only half the battle. In this instance, as with everything, content is king.
Here, Stone Junction’s marketing executive Tasha Bodger explains how to achieve the perfect mobile meetup — which has both style and substance.
Let there be light … natural light
Like broccoli in your teeth or a toothpaste stain on your shirt, a badly lit setup might be something you don’t notice until it’s far too late.
Dingey backlighting, overhead yellow bulbs and inconsistent light sources create unprofessional and uneven lighting. You don’t want to look like you’ve answered the call from your shoe cupboard!
Diffused, natural light is the gold standard.
Try to position yourself in front of a large window with as much direct sunlight as you can manage. If your WFH situation doesn’t allow for such indulgences, then elevate a desk lamp — white bulb only, duh — behind your computer screen. This should ensure you’re well lit, look well-rested and don’t look, well, terrible.
Location, location, location
Once you’ve set up Blackpool illuminations — see above point — you need to ensure your surroundings are free of clutter and general WFH mess.
Crumb-covered plates, dirty laundry or unmade bedsheets don’t make for a conducive working environment nor is it a great backdrop for a conference call. No one — especially your boss — wants to see last night’s pyjama bottoms strewn across the floor — that’s if you’re not still wearing them!
Tidy up, conceal the mess, or just move locations if necessary. You should be the focus, not your background.
Minimizing human interference during a conference call is just as important as choosing the correct setting.
Housemates hollering up the stairs, hoovers, tumble dryers, a not so subtle snack break — top tip, avoid Pringles — are all things that can disrupt your audio and detract from the true purpose of the meeting.
Noise distractions are proven to lower participant concentration levels and can frustrate those in attendance — especially the speaker. Don’t be the oblivious co-worker ‘Darth Vader breathing’ down the microphone for 40 minutes.
Mute yourself if you’re not speaking, it’s that simple.
The art of facilitation
So, you’ve mastered the art of silence, but how do you know when to speak up? Whenever you want to, right?
This is a trick question. Knowing when or how to contribute shouldn’t be down to you. Every successful conference call should have a facilitator, someone whose job it is to terminate side-conversations and encourage relevant participation.
Without a middle-man — or woman — discussions can go off topic and away from the agenda. Before you know it, Barbara is telling Doug about her weekend, Tim is pointing out to the entire business your audio is out of sync and everyone else is just desperate for the call to be over.
Having a member of management or the office director chair the meeting allows the conversation to be passed back and forth equally. No one is excluded and every voice counts.
Secret Tip: Some applications — Zoom and Microsoft Teams — have a virtual hand-raising tool. This means you can signal to your facilitator when you want to speak.
Content is King
You’ve now created the perfect set up — congratulations! — but this should only be a small part of your web chat success.
Your focus now, and always, should be on the content of your call; be it internal, client-facing or to stakeholders. It’s important to plan regardless of your audience.
Although this may sound like a lot of work, don’t fret, this is where we — and by ‘we’ I mean, Stone Junction — can help! Throughout lockdown our entire operation has moved virtual, so we’re gathering cloud comms skills like it’s going out of fashion — which it isn’t by the way.
So, if you need help planning content of any kind, or a notebook full of neat ideas then why not give us a call? A video one that is…
We’re still changing minds! Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0) 1785 225416 if you’re looking for content, global or technical PR.