How to organise video conferencing?

Tips voor een prettige online vergadering.

Now that we work from home as much as possible, our meetings are also primarily taking place on the digital domain. How do you make a video conference a pleasant experience? We help you on your way with a number of useful tips.

Since the corona crisis working from home has become the standard. At least, in certain sectors. Research by the Rabobank shows that 89 percent of the economy can operate when we are socially distancing and 43 percent van be done completely from home. In some sectors it is easier to work from home than others. Especially in the financial sector, IT and business services, most of the work can be done from home. At Rabobank, too, we largely work from home. In addition to conducting our job interviews entirely online, for example, all other meetings also take place digitally.

What do you need to take into account when videoconferencing, what does this require from you and your colleagues and how do you turn a videoconference into a pleasant experience? We help you on your way with a number of useful tips.

Tip 1.
Provide a clear structure; use a check-in and a check-out.

The role of the chairperson in the meeting is even more important online than in regular meetings. As with face-to-face meetings, you create an agenda and send it out on time. This way everyone knows in advance which topics will be discussed and how long this discussion will last (approximately). The meeting then starts with a check-in. Everyone gives a brief answer to the question how they feel and what the expectations are of this meeting. At the end of the discussion, the chairman briefly summarizes the meeting and closes with the check-out. All participants share how they experienced the meeting and what they take away from it.

Tip 2.
Use the technology wisely: hide yourself on the screen.

Video conferencing requires a different way of communicating. Instead of sitting together in a room and looking at each other, you sit behind your computer and can’t look each other in the eye. This makes video conferencing many times more intense and tiring than face-to-face conferencing.Virtual interactions are extremely difficult for our brain to process. The phenomenon that video conferencing can be very tiring is now known as ‘Video Call Fatigue’ or ‘Zoom Fatigue’.

What helps is to create an natural environment with as few distractions as possible. In normal meetings you’re not looking at your own face either, so hide the video of yourself on your screen. This helps you to focus on your conversation partners. If you use Microsoft Teams, you can use Together Mode to place the participants of a video meeting at a virtual conference table or in a auditorium. This allows you to communicate much more naturally with each other.

Tip 3.
Interrupt others as little as possible; turn off your microphone when you are not talking.

Try not to talk at the same time. The sound at a video conference comes in through a single connection, which makes it difficult to follow the conversation when everyone is talking at the same time. When you’re not talking, turn off your microphone. Learn the shortcut by heart, then you can switch quickly if necessary. The chairman plays an important role here as well: he gives the participants the floor one by one and keeps an eye on whether someone wants to add something. Make use of the support provided by the software. In Microsoft Teams for example, you can click on the icon with the hand. Everyone then sees the hand and your name on the screen, indicating that you want to add something without having to say anything out loud.

Tip 4.
Make the discussion interactive and lively.

Fortunately, all these agreements and rules do not have to prevent you from having a lively discussion. How do you turn an online meeting into an active, lively meeting? Make use of the technology at hand like the chat or agree to use sign language to quickly let others know if you want to add something.If you’re a bit handy, you can create a Snapchat video lens in Lens Studio that complements your hand gestures with an image, for example as a cartoon.

For example, you agree to raise your hand when you want to add something, show your palm when you object, or raise your thumb when you agree to something. Put a link to the hand gestures or appointments in the calendar you send around. This way everyone can read it in advance and make it their own. When you are all aware of which gestures you are using for what, then the meeting can begin!

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