How to make video calls suck less - part 1

You know the kind of meetings, where people drop in over a couple of minutes, there’s a lot of chit-chats and after 10 minutes people start filling up the agenda on the spot?

That’s a horrible meeting experience and part of why people might hate remote meetings. (Or even meetings in general). For some reason, many people and teams think that this is okay, but it’s not. It’s very disrespectful of people’s time.

There’s a reason why video-call fatigue is in the headlines often. Because video calls are exhausting. They are very different from in-person meetings.

When meeting with a bunch of people in a room, there’s a different vibe. You might joke a little with your neighbor, or observe others or just enjoy the company.

When sitting in front of a screen, this experience is very different. You can’t just talk to someone else. Only one person can actually talk in a conference call. So sitting in front of a screen, waiting for a meeting to start for 10 minutes can feel like an eternity.

So here are some guidelines to help make your next conference call a success:

  1. Have an Agenda prepared

    For a conference call, have an Agenda prepared. Have very clearly formulated what will be discussed, which questions should be talked about, and provide a guideline for everyone to follow. Providing structure shows respect for everyone who’s participating, and also makes it clear when it might be a good time to stop the meeting. If there’s nothing more on the Agenda, it’s okay to end early.
  2. Share the Agenda early

    Ideally have the Agenda prepared some time before the meeting and not only right on time. By having it done early, you can also share it early with people. Giving them a clear heads up on what’s going to be discussed, and weighing in with their opinions, answers, questions, or feedback. And no worries, there will be more things discussed and added during the meeting.
  3. Don’t be scared of ending the meeting

    Some meetings might feel slow and not great. That’s okay. Happens. In this case, feel free to end the meeting early. If there’s nothing more to discuss today, then maybe there will the next time. Don’t feel obliged to fill a slot completely because it was planned for.
    On the other side, you might experience a meeting that has a ton of great discussions and energy. If possible, try to bottle this energy by defining a follow-up session, encourage people to jump on a separate call, or define the next steps. If you can, I would still recommend ending the meeting on time.

End on a good note

If you can, end every meeting on a good note. Highlight something positive.
e.g ”This meeting was really good!”; “Thanks again for bringing up this topic”; “I really want to highlight how great your contributions to the team are”
You get it. This lets everyone get away from the meeting with a good feeling.

And there’s a bunch of more things we can improve in meetings. Following the guidelines above, might already have a positive impact on your next conference call. You could ask for feedback on it maybe 😸

We’ll look at more details in upcoming posts. For now, please let me know if you have any questions, ideas, or examples of how your video calls became better for everyone.

In Part 2 will be a look at the Agenda!

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Roman Kuba

Roman Kuba

Austria