No doubt about it, today’s technology can make distance irrelevant. As the workforce becomes more dispersed and companies recognize the cost savings of connecting remotely, phone, video and Web conferencing – and especially, applications like Skype – are growing in popularity. It can be difficult, however, to know how to interact with colleagues and business contacts who are in different locations. Follow these tips provided by Robert Half to stay on the up-and-up.
Click through for 10 tips to improve phone, video and Web conferencing, as identified by Robert Half.
Know how to use the conferencing technology prior to scheduling a meeting. If you’re not familiar with the video screen, Web-hosting software, webcam or telephone features, plan a practice run so you can troubleshoot issues without wasting other’s time.
Would your colleagues in Asia appreciate a conference call at 3 a.m. their time? When scheduling a meeting that involves individuals from several locations, keep their local time in mind. Websites such as timeanddate.com can help you decipher time zones. Avoid hosting meetings very early, late or during lunch, if possible.
In advance of a conference call, give attendees what they’ll need for the meeting – dial-in number, pass code, login information and attachments (e.g., presentations, sales reports). If you want them to review the materials in advance, say so. Include a brief agenda so people can come prepared with some thoughts instead of coming in cold.
Here’s your chance to show your true skills as a facilitator. If you’re leading the call, make appropriate introductions before giving a brief overview. Keep the discussion moving and have an eye on the clock so you can leave a few minutes at the end to address questions, recap, and confirm next steps and deadlines.
Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind. If part of the group is meeting in person, don’t forget about those joining via phone or online. Ask them for their thoughts if they seem quiet.
You may think your voice is distinctive, but it’s not always easy to tell who’s talking. Encourage everyone to introduce themselves before they speak. Also, be sure to acknowledge someone who joins midway through the call.
It can be a virtue, and who enjoys being interrupted? In virtual meetings, it can be difficult to determine whose turn it is to speak. A lag in the connection may also cause a delayed response. Allow for pauses in conversations so everyone can weigh in and catch up.
Don’t get caught daydreaming. It’s easy to let your mind wander during a remote meeting, or you may begin to multitask if you’re not being directly addressed.
More than one conference has ended prematurely because on-hold music has prevented the conversation from proceeding. Remind attendees at the beginning of the meeting to hang up if they must attend to something else.
It’s just common courtesy to limit distracting background noises when you’re listening to others. Remember to turn you mute button off before it’s your turn to speak.