I started working in the corporate world in 2007. I was comfortable with email having used it since my early teens. And even back then we had instant messengers and chats. People from that generation were comfortable typing messages and communicating that way. Not everyone in the office was like that. There was still a lot of in-person meetings and phone conversations.
And that was good. I really appreciated getting to learn more about that more traditional types of communication in the business world. There were positives about digital and analog. And there are definitely positives about in-person communication.
Then I remember later on that video conferencing started coming on the scene. It wasn’t real great at first. In fact, it was very bad and most of us ignored it. But I think back in our minds we knew that it would take over eventually.
Then we all kind of got forced to work remotely and suddenly we were learning on the fly how to participate and host video meetings.
If you’re still struggling here are a few possible tips.
Preparing for meetings is something you often want to do for all meetings. In-person. Virtual. Phone. It doesn’t matter. Taking time to at least consider what will be discussed is a good thing. You don’t often want to be caught totally off guard.
In video meetings you don’t want to get caught holding things up in the dead space. In-person, people can kind of see that you’re thinking and taking a moment. But in video they might have another screen open. If there is silence they might think that they lost the feed or something.
That’s just one example of why it’s good to prepare. There are many more. Depending on the meeting it might be a few minutes of forward thinking. For others it might be preparing notes and research and prepared thoughts.
2. Seize Your Moments
The more people you get in a video meeting the more difficult it will be to find your spots to share your thoughts. Some people are pretty good with hosting. They schedule things out and make sure to give participants time for thoughts. But that’s often not the case.
If you prepare you should have a good idea of where your thoughts are valuable to the task. When those moments occur you want to step in and assert your position. You may have to interrupt someone. You may need to start speaking at the same time as someone else and either go ahead or let them go. In doing that others know that you have something to say so they’ll often give you space for that.
3. Minimize Your Self Video
We tend to look at ourselves on video when we’re participating in virtual meetings. It can be annoying. It can cause anxiety. The best solution I’ve found is to minimize ourselves. This makes us pay attention to the other participants. We can listen and watch their mannerisms. We can take in much more information.
And I find that it also allows you to be more of yourself. You add more of your own mannerisms that help communicate what you’re trying to get across. Sometimes we hide those in video meetings because we’re looking at ourselves and wondering about judgment.
4. Ask Questions (Voice and Text)
A good way to keep a meeting going is to ask questions. You don’t want to overdue it, but if someone is making a good point, ask them follow up questions. If they have a good idea, ask a questions to keep the conversation going. Don’t let it die while others are busy looking at themselves on the video chat.
A good thing about video meetings is that you can ask questions out loud. You can interject and ask the question. Something normal in an in-person meeting. But you can also type questions in the chat. Most video meeting software has this.
Let’s say someone is moderating. Another person is speaking. You have a question, but don’t feel it’s the appropriate time to interrupt. Type it in the chat. The moderator will save it and ask when appropriate. It’s a great thing with these meetings and webinars.
5. Let Others Speak
Often in meetings there is a person that talks too much. They kind of dominate the conversation. They often add value, but sometimes they take it too far. They don’t let others share ideas or anything else that might be valuable. And the person in charge of the meeting isn’t always able to cut them off and allow others to participate.
This occurs often in video meetings also. And it can be more difficult to interject it seems.
If you feel that you’ve been talking for awhile just take a moment to step back and let others join in. Ask them if they have thoughts. It’s okay to catch yourself doing this. It may be that others will ask you to continue.
Video meetings have been great. The tech is much better than even a few years ago. Internet is fast. Connections are reliable. But there are some things we’re still learning. As time goes by we will get better. But if you’re struggling right now then I hope these little tips can help.