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7 Video Conferencing Tips: Easy But Not Simple

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 16 June 2020 05:00

Because it’s easy to join or host a video conference meeting does not make it simple to do.

Goofing around with friends or family and spending half the online session with at least one person trying to get audio or video or both is not that big a deal. In fact, that’s pretty common.

When you host or attend a business video conference meeting, your presence is a reflection of your professional abilities whether you want to admit this or not.

Success Tip #1: Clarify exactly who you’ll be talking with and why

• Client Meeting: Before you join a client’s session, clarify exactly what the client wants to achieve. What outcome are they counting on? What do they expect you to contribute? What point or points is the client expecting to make to others in attendance?

The client may have arranged an online family gathering to discuss listing or buying a multigenerational real estate holding. Or, the client may be a business with shareholders and executives in attendance. Do not assume you know who will attend or why. Ask significant questions before the meeting so you will be fully prepared. Goal: No surprises.

First Meeting: In an initial meeting that brings you screen-to-screen online with a prospect individual, group, or organization you’d probably prefer to meet face-to-face, everything matters. The power of first impressions is not to be underestimated. Learn as much as possible, in advance, about the prospect and their expectations so you can anticipate their needs. 

Why have they chosen you? Or, is this one of two or three interviews they are holding to decide who will represent them in their real estate transaction or transactions? Goal: Successful rapport-building.

Listing or Buyer Agreement: If this online session is a listing presentation or an audition for buyer agency, how will the agreement be signed once they decide you and your brokerage are the right fit for the job? Clarifying this vital detail before the session, will also help you prepare and suggest alternatives to ensure a contract is created. 

How will you keep the meeting interactive to address objections and clarify details as you go? Be ready to explain succinctly—using benefits, not features—why you and your brokerage are the obvious choice. Goal: Meeting of the minds.

Zoom is a high-profile online meeting platform, but it is far from the only one. Skype, Google Meet, CISCO Webex, FreeConference, and Jitsi are all popular conferencing alternatives and additional reliable choices continue to appear. Or, perhaps you have access to an office conference phone system or prefer webinar software like GoToMeeting or ClickMeeting.

Master whichever video conferencing platform you chose or you are told to use. Most have tutorials and guidelines to support your efforts. Phone access (especially as audio backup) and recording capability may be useful features. If you opt for a free version, learn about freebie limitations, Covid-inspired specials, and premium upgrades.

Video conferencing is not the same as being face-to-face with another human, particularly if you are strangers to each other.

Success Tip #2: Be Prepared for the Meeting

• Know what the other party or parties expect and how they define a successful meeting. Who will handle the agenda, meeting management, participant muting, and troubleshooting?
• Compile a list of common technical problems and how to troubleshoot them. In case problems arise, find out what device each attendee will use. If this is an important business meeting, have a technical person there as back-up and/or an assistant to help monitor attendee chat questions and comments.
• Decide what collateral material you want the other parties to have before the meeting, during the meeting, and as “takeaways.” Deliver that error-free, professional content to them in the manner that best suits them.
• Legible, memorable slides aid a presentation, but they are not the presentation. You are. If you intend to illustrate your listing presentation or similar explanation, avoid flashing through high-content slides that leave viewers struggling to play “mental catch up” and resist flipping through overly-simplified slides that your voice-over merely reads leaving viewers free to multitask on non-meeting distractions. Stress relevant keywords, images, graphics, phrases, or ideas to make your point.

Success Tip #3: Time Is Of The Essence

The question is not whether you can fill 40 minutes or an hour, but what is the best use of your precious time together? What point or points must be made? What response is expected? What will the next step be?

Fitting complex content into a 40 minute session may be a challenge. You may decide to run two or three sessions back-to-back. The complex content may need to be introduced beforehand, expanded on during the first session, and then rounded out during the next phase of the meeting. Perhaps a one-on-one call with you will be the best last step.

Any slide presentation must fit the exact time available with time set aside for interaction and discussion. Have plans in place in case time runs out or is cut short, so you can still make your point. What will you do if they are not responsive and there is time to fill?

Success Tip #4: Practice to Perfect

• Rehearse your part so that it comes naturally. Practice with interruptions so you are comfortable jumping back in or skipping ahead as time demands. Use a video camera or audio recorder while you rehearse to see and hear how your presentation looks and sounds. Then fine tune.

• Practice with the video conferencing software so there are no surprises for you or your audience. If this is your meeting, own it. No whining or excuses. There’s nothing funny or cute about a professional using professional equipment when they don’t know what they are doing. What works one day may not the next. Re-check audio and video a day or so before and the day of the event to be sure everything functions perfectly.

• What will you do if the internet goes down? What back-up strategy would allow your delivery to continue regardless? If working from home, how will you head-off interruptions like kids and pets?

• What extra back-up may help? Would you benefit from a second monitor to display the chat while the other carries your slides? Consider connecting to the Internet with an Ethernet cable, especially if you’re using a webcam, since hard-wiring is typically more reliable than WIFI.

Success Tip #5: Professional Polish Counts

Look your best to make a polished impression. Dress as you would for a face-to-face meeting but make sure you wear clothes you are comfortable sitting in so you don’t fidget.

Avoid black and white patterns, black on black, and large patterns or overly-vivid colors. Camera test what you intend to wear. Simple is best. Make-up is essential, but don’t overdo it. Again, camera test for a natural, healthy, non-shiny, non-blotchy look. Keep jewelry to a minimum and avoid clanging bracelets or necklaces especially if you’ll wear a mike.

Good lighting is key. Do not sit in front of a window. Add light from above and other directions as required to lessen or eliminate shadows.

Whether you sit or stand, make sure you elevate the camera/notebook, so you are looking straight into the camera. This will avoid “piggy nose” where the camera is too low and looks up your nose. Not an attractive angle for anyone.

Transform your “2D-video image” into a “3-D live wire” by ramping up energy levels. Use warm-up exercises for voice, breathing, and body to ensure vitality and warmth come through the screen. Eye contact and paying attention are vital so don’t gaze up, down, and around when you speak or while someone else is.

Background matters too: What Message Is Your Background Sending?  

Success Tip # 6: Interaction Spikes Attention

Most video conferencing services have interactive features like chat, poll, or whiteboard. Plan in advance how and when you’ll incorporate interaction and questions. If attendees cannot see each other’s chat responses, read some out. Polls can engage individuals and reveal group responses to key ideas. Whiteboards allow you to write on the screen and add immediacy or new relevance—just don’t over do it. Instead of hiding behind the slides, show your webcam inset so attendees can choose you or the slides as full screen. Or, start with you on full screen and then switch to slides.

Success Step #7: Follow-up

The longer the session, the greater the possibility that someone missed something. Follow-up with a value offer like a recording of the session, a summary PDF, an email with additional resource links, or a brief Q&A phone call. The goal is to make it easy for everyone attending to get your point and respond favorably to it.

Treat each video conference meeting seriously to be taken seriously!

For more on effective communication, visit PJ Wade’s blog What’s Your Point? 

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PJ Wade —       Decisions & Communities

Futurist and Achievement Strategist PJ WADE is “The Catalyst”—intent on Challenging The Best to Become Even Better. A dynamic problem solver and author of 8 books and more than 2800 published articles, PJ concentrates on the knowledge, insight, communication prowess, and special decision-making skills essential for professionals and their clients who are determined to thrive in the 21st-Century vortex of change.

PJ Wade's latest business bookWhat's Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark & Stick!—further proves PJ's forward-thinking expertise and her on-point ability to explain technical, even non-verbal, communication details in practical, actionable terms. Print publication: Fall 2022.

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