One thing that the pandemic and working from home has done (besides making sweatpants acceptable “business casual” attire) is push everyone into using their webcams. For years, we’ve been saying that’s the best tool for helping people stay connected and build relationships. Great start everyone! But there’s more.
Tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx and Microsoft Teams have pretty much made video conversations as simple as phone calls. Additionally, people who worked in the office and made excuses NOT to use video have pretty much been forced into it. Even if we don’t like it, we’ve been pushed into using these tools, and as far as we know nobody has come to physical harm. But those tools contain other features that still aren’t being utilized and can add value to your meetings.
Most tools contain similar features, although they might be called different names or be on a different part of the dashboard. These features can elevate your team meetings from “Phone calls with faces,” to truly interactive, productive meetings.
Now that you’re over the webcam “hump,” try using some of these other common but underused features:
The White Board
Most web meeting tools have a whiteboard feature. While some are better than others (shoutout to Microsoft Teams; step up your game, Citrix) they all can be very useful when trying to make your meetings mean something. First, they serve as a visual stimulation. Having words and concepts appear on screen not only gives you something to look at besides your email, it stimulates the brain to associate new ideas with what’s there. You will have better brainstorming sessions if people are looking at the same thing at the same time. It also helps create a team environment where getting input from everyone is easier than simply calling for volunteers. You can save the whiteboards for distribution later or use in the next meeting. And you can have as many whiteboards as you want, you never run out of paper, and the markers never run dry, making them better than flip charts in the real world.
Screen/Application Sharing in Real Time
Screen sharing is so much more than just a way to shove PowerPoint slides into people’s eyeballs. If you’ve ever tried to walk a team through a document or spreadsheet by phone, and been unable to keep people focused or able to track the conversation, this is a great solution. By showing not just a screen shot, but a live application, you can help the team focus and be—literally—on the same page. Extra bonus points for switching control so that you can coach people how to use applications and have them apply the learning immediately, in real time. Plus it will make you feel like an IT guru, which is kind of cool.
Many new meeting leaders find chat an annoyance or a distraction. In fact, it can be a great way to generate input and is far more democratic a tool than a conference call. On chat, people can answer questions thoughtfully without having to fight for the microphone or worry about interrupting other people. Your introverts and people with strong accents or weak verbal English skills can participate on an equal footing with the pushier, more talkative types. It also gives you a way to gather information and keep people engaged throughout a long meeting or webinar.
Remember that 80% of technology users actually use only 20% of the features. By incorporating some of these powerful tools you move to the top of the class, and encourage others in your organization to do the same.
For tips like these and more, join us for our public-enrollment Virtual Instructor Led Class on Leading Effective Virtual Meetings on June 3.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. You can pre-order Kevin and Wayne’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, now.