‘You’re on mute’, ‘Can you send me the link for the meeting please?’, ‘Can everyone see and hear me?’… I am sure these are just a few of the common phrases you have heard over the past year or so – and potentially for longer into the future.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have adapted to the changes in circumstances, tried to maintain engagement and allow their employees to keep in touch while working remotely, by introducing the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams into their daily routines.
One of the most popular uses of video conferencing in the workplace has been formal meetings with third party companies/clients, to promote or inform new business policies and products, whilst following the restrictions in place during this period.
If you have ever been asked to do a video conference meeting or presentation, you will most likely have had a lot of questions running through your mind. One of them probably being, ‘how can I create an engaging presentation via video call, which captures the audience’s attention from the offset?’
No matter the context, remembering the basic rules of etiquette for video conferencing is a good start.* Time management, testing your equipment beforehand (i.e. internet connect, webcam visibility, audio and microphone check etc.) and having a backup plan are all useful things to consider.
Grabbing the audience’s attention from the very beginning can be done using an ‘ice breaker’, which can entail a joke about the topic, asking the audience their opinion of the topic or by creating a poll or quiz to gain a better understanding of the level of knowledge your audience has on the matter at hand. By using this method, you are instantly encouraging the members of the video call to engage with you, and everyone involved – you can use these methods throughout your presentation to keep everyone’s interest on the topic and what you have to say.
Lifehack recommends that presentations or meetings are ‘simple and to the point’. When you explain a subcategory of the topic, make sure you are explaining it clearly and avoid jargon or technical terminology so that someone who is new or unsure of the topic can follow what is being discussed and won’t zone out due to being confused. Always keep in mind, ‘quality over quantity’.
Remember, you don’t always have to treat a video call as an entirely serious matter. Depending on the nature of the call, don’t be afraid to add a bit of humour and your personality to the presentation/meeting. Not only will this help keep all members attention on what you have to say, it will also allow them to be more comfortable to ask questions or join in the discussion. You can also make relatable comments on different sections. This could be a memory you have in line with topic that made you smile and may even end up being something a member of the call has experienced themselves. Being personable will create a comfortable environment for everyone involved.
Obviously, when using humour, remember you are on a business call. Keep it light and avoid using jokes or comments around sensitive subjects – however a little ‘dad joke’ never hurt anyone, right?
If you are using slides or documents as resources for your presentation or meeting, do not hesitate to add images or animations. It would be best to use something fun and engaging. Personally, my go to will always be a funny animal picture/gif as most people will find that more intriguing than a stock picture of people in suits, smiling at the camera.
Again, you can use images or videos that show your personality, making the topic and yourself more relatable to the individuals involved. Speaking through a computer doesn’t make you a robot, so don’t act like one!
At the end of the presentation, you want to refocus on the seriousness of the topic. This is your chance to recap on the important facts and information the members of the call will need to take away with them. This is also a good opportunity to allow people to ask questions they have about a certain section and/or allow a discussion on the topic to be formed.
Finally, remember to take your time with the preparation of the presentation/meeting and practice what you are going to say so you can get the timing right. You want to start and finish within the time allocated as ending later than planned can cause frustration for the members of the call and people might have to leave due to other commitments, resulting in them missing something important or not being able to ask any questions they may have.
*You can find more details on the basics of how to prepare yourself for video conferencing, and the situations that may occur while dealing with technology on the Aviva Development Zone, by competing the course: ‘Video Conferencing – Etiquette’.