Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting becomes draining. We get it. Virtual meeting fatigue is already setting in for many of us during this “indefinite” work-from-home COVID-19 situation.
Yet even outside of pandemic mode, remote teams and virtual meetings are becoming more of a norm in the technology industry. It’s worth learning to ace conference call conduct, regardless of our temporary circumstance. Practicing how to become a more “dialed-in” virtual meeting attendee will not only reflect better on you as an engaged team player throughout a remote technology project—but it will actualize your ability to get more out of the meetings and projects yourself.
If you haven’t read our 6 Simple Tips for Smooth Video Calls article yet, give it a quick review first to freshen up on the video call basics. Then, let’s dive into these four ways to up your game as a standout participant, during meetings and offline:
1. Prepare Mentally, Physically, & Professionally
Always go into a meeting knowing exactly what you want to get out of it. This should, ideally, be aligned with an agenda sent to you in advance by the meeting coordinator, but your own objectives—personal and professional—should be rooted in some self-reflection.
Jot down what you:
- Want to know by the conclusion of the call
- How you want to feel by the time you sign off
Then consider the steps or questions you could contribute—directly or indirectly—to enable those goals. Go ahead and write out your standing questions in advance of the meeting. If the situation allows, submit those questions to the coordinator to help them prepare.
Handwritten notes will never steer you wrong. As your questions are addressed during the meeting, check them off your list. As the meeting end time draws near, you’ll know exactly what is outstanding and needs to be mentioned in the closing discussion.
Following our smooth video call tips, prepare your appearance and home office space appropriately. Try to sign onto the virtual meeting a minute or two early, and set down as many distractions as possible.
2. Prove You’re Listening
Removing distractions will not only help you focus but will also reduce workday fatigue. We all believe we’re fantastic multi-taskers, but the reality is we humans are only capable of semi-tasking. When taking on two actions, our attention span splits, not doubles. In fact, a study done by Harvard Business Review found that multitasking reduced productivity by 40% on average.
If you are distracted during a meeting, your colleagues will know it more often than not– and by the conclusion of the call, you’ll feel exhausted, discombobulated, and even frustrated. If you’re feeling a meeting is a waste of your time, focus on actions you can take on to make it (or the next one) more meaningful.
One way to hold yourself accountable to remaining engaged is to keep your video on throughout the meeting. This will naturally challenge you to be aware of your nonverbal communication cues – like nodding, smiling, and clearly directing eye contact to the presentation and speaker. These engagements make it easier to focus on the meeting instead of bouncing around browser windows or looking down at your phone.
Even though you’re not in person with the other meeting participants, you can still come across as unengaged and even disrespectful. For example, sending a chat message, text, or email to others on the call during the call can come across as unprofessional and distracting.
Another smart way to keep yourself on your toes is to take physical notes (and thus remove the temptation of keys-on-keyboard) and to repeat back or summarize the speaker’s main points for clarity and confirmation.
3. Speak Up
Want to be a standout participant? Then participate! Obviously not in an obnoxious way or too frequently… But keep in mind there is rarely a circumstance where you should go an entire meeting without having your voice contributed. Sometimes this is a simple as saying “yes” when the presenter asks if everyone can see her screen or if his outline of next steps makes sense. Don’t leave the speaker hanging! Their questions to the group are rarely rhetorical.
But also speak up when you have something insightful to contribute – or when you need to disagree or offer a different way of thinking. Gauge the situation and the speaker’s role, to know your professional boundaries… but remember: If you would speak up at a specific point during an in-person meeting, then do it in the virtual meeting! Don’t let technology be the barrier of progress. It’s 2020!
Feel empowered to speak up before and after the scheduled meetings as well. Let the leader know if you have concerns, suggestions, or questions in advance. Spark follow-up conversations in the team Slack or Microsoft Teams chat. You are involved in this project for a reason, and it’s likely not to be a fly on the wall. And if you honestly feel like you do not have value to bring to the project—speak up, then, too.
4. Affirm & Advance, Together
It may seem like a complex technology project would be best completed while working through in-person meetings. In reality, virtual tech projects can be completed just as efficiently as in-person projects, if not more. Some of us—especially thinking of our development team—may be more productive than ever right now working from home in sweats than wearing khakis and a tie in a room full of 30 other stakeholders. But even if the project deliverables do not suffer through remote work, our human connection as team members is at risk.
As employees that propel brands, industries, and solutions, we are also meant exert our own individualities as team members and stakeholders. Working from home does not mandate we become chat bots. We remain colleagues.
Find ways to continue building and maintaining relationships with new and veteran team members. It’s true that this is often not possible during the 1-hour conference call. So, send a text message to your old deskmate after to crack a joke. Or give so-and-so a call one afternoon to get their viewpoint on the project status. Or shoot the leader an email to affirm the communication process you find most beneficial.
Comradery means being together. Offices and business trips are out of the question currently—but find ways to be present with others on the team, online and offline. .
“Unified commerce” is more than an omnichannel concept. Unified is how we as technology, solution, and retail professionals will advance, together.