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How to use video conferencing tools effectively

Video conferencing has been around for quite some time, but we really got to know them inside out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nowadays, they’re a crucial part of regular business communication, making it easier to work from home, link up with remote offices, and have face-to-face meetings with clients who are far away.

Just like face-to-face meetings, video calls come with their own set of challenges. Hosts need to get ready and make sure to minimize distractions in order to have a real impact on the participants.

A lot of folks are now doing the whole work-from-home thing on a more permanent basis. Businesses these days usually give the option to work remotely as a flexible perk. And since remote work is a thing, it’s no surprise that video calls have become a must for keeping things running smoothly.

Check if everything’s working fine

Before hopping on a video call, double-check that your device, internet, camera, mic, and speakers are all good to go. Give everything a quick run-through with the video conferencing tool you’re using, and tweak the settings if necessary. Make sure to download or update the software or app ahead of time, and have a backup plan ready just in case there are any technical glitches.

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Keep video conferencing software updated

Nothing stresses out a video conferencing host quite like a software update deciding to download right as the meeting kicks off. To steer clear of this headache, fire up the software and check for updates well in advance—like hours before the call. That way, any updates can do their thing without messing with your online meeting.

Give your computer a quick reboot and reopen the software to make sure everything’s good to go. If there were any changes to the dashboard in the update, this extra time lets you take a brief look and get ready to host a smooth and efficient call.

Keep your background clear

The cool part about video calls is you can jump in from wherever, whenever. The hitch is, folks often don’t really check out their surroundings before hitting that video start button. You don’t need to be a Hollywood star to figure out your best angles. Set up your camera so your head stays in a natural position. This gives you a good look without weird distractions from bad camera placement. Nobody wants to be staring up at your nose, checking out your ceiling fan, or getting a view of the top of your head.

Involve everyone and collaborate

Video calls might get a bit dull or distant, so it’s key to get your participants involved and working together. Throw in some icebreakers, polls, quizzes, or games to kickstart the chat and build a connection. Make use of screen sharing, whiteboards, or breakout rooms to swap ideas, docs, or feedback. And, of course, don’t skimp on the smiles, nods, and showing some enthusiasm and appreciation.

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Don’t forget to follow up with the participants

Once the video call wraps up, it’s smart to touch base with your participants and up your game for the next one. Shoot over a quick email or chat with a summary, action items, or feedback. Get the lowdown on the video conferencing experience by asking for or giving feedback—figure out what went smoothly and what could use a tweak. If there’s a recording of the call, give it a watch to pick up on where you nailed it or where you might need a little fine-tuning.

Try avoiding excess noise

You might not always be doing video calls from an office—could be your crib, a coffee joint, or some chill community spot. But it’s always a good call to hunt down a quiet spot for hosting or joining video meetings.