6 Ways To Make Video Meetings As Good As Real Life Meetings
Video conferencing has changed the way we do business. Collaborations between people across the nation or across the world used to rely on expensive travel arrangements. Any real progress on a joint project was limited to a very brief window when someone from one organization could fly out to meet and talk with someone from the other organization.
Now, however, you can hold meetings via video linkup and talk to someone thousands of miles away as if they were in the same room. But is it really the same? Can looking at a video screen have the same effect as looking someone in the eye? It can if you're well prepared. Here are 6 tips for making video meetings like real life meetings as much as possible.
- Check All Systems. Before the meeting gets started, do a thorough check of all the systems you'll be using during the meeting. This includes testing the camera to make sure the picture is clear, testing audio to make sure the sound can be easily heard and understood, and testing your Internet connection to make sure it's strong and won't cut you off in the middle of your meeting. An equipment malfunction is one of the quickest ways to take you out of the moment and make your video meeting fail.
- Use an HD Camera. You have no control over the kind of equipment that the partners you're connecting with are using, but you can do your best to make sure their experience viewing you is as realistic as possible. Use an HD camera that will capture all the subtle colors and details of your surroundings, and make it look like you're actually there in the room with them.
- Use an HD Projector. Having everybody huddle around a computer screen (or squint at it from across the table) makes things uncomfortable. Making video meetings like real life meetings means viewing the other person clearly and easily. Using a projector and screen makes your meeting partners as big as you are and allows you to interact with them more naturally.
- Control the Lighting. Even with an HD camera, bad lighting can make your picture look terrible. Test the lighting in the room to see how it looks on camera. If there are windows in the room, close the drapes or blinds to eliminate outside light. And don't wear bright colors, as they can be distracting.
- Make Eye Contact. As much as possible, look directly at the camera, to make it look like you're making eye contact. If you look at the screen instead, your gaze will be slightly off, which looks odd and takes everyone out of the moment.
- Use Supplemental Materials. One thing real life meetings have is packets of papers, containing reports, charts, etc. that are given to each attendee to illustrate your points better. Put together these packets and e-mail them to your meeting partners in advance, so that you can make reference to them as you talk.
Making video meetings like real life meetings just takes a little effort and planning. If you know what you're doing, it can feel like the people you're meeting with just walked through the door of your office. The only thing missing will be the firm, business handshake. Maybe technology will figure that out next.