Video meetings are here to stay. Even for those in areas where shelter-in-place ordinances are ending, the convenience and relative ease of online meetings remain. For many law firms, now that the adoption of web-based meetings is complete, offering them on an ongoing basis makes a lot of sense. Not only due to health concerns but also for efficiency. So, if your law firm is continuing to offer video meetings, here are some best practices for video meetings.
Sometimes, location is just limited. And that's ok. There are options, presented below. But to the best of your ability, look for a quiet space with a simple background. Not everyone has a home office. Find a spot where the video camera doesn't see in to your kitchen pantry, for example. Or your bedroom or bathroom. You get the idea.
Check the lighting, too. It's a good idea to be seen on these video conferences. Make sure the lighting allows others on the conference to see you. Light should be coming toward your face, rather than framing you from behind. Again, do your best.
Oh, mute. How we love and don't love you. But it is important to use it strategically. If you are experiencing unexpected background noise, quickly hit that mute button. When it's passed, you can remove it. If there are several people on the conference call and there is one speaker, it's generally best for everyone but the speaker to be muted. Not only does it minimize distracting background noise, but it helps provider a higher sound quality for the speaker.
If you are in a space that is a bit noisy, use a headset. Or maybe it's your earbuds. Either way, it's a great way to minimize unavoidable background noise and stay focused on the meeting.
If you are working from home, that's great. But if you would generally wear a suit to a meeting, you need to do the same for video conferences. At least from the waist up. No doubt many of us are wearing shorts or sweatpants, but business as far as the video conference can see. That includes hair, etc.
You may not think of appearance as including where you are in relation to the camera, but it does. Find the optimal position of your computer and yourself so your face is centered in the view. And not too close, either. Generally speaking the camera should be slightly elevated and pointing down at a very small angle. Use books or boxes to prop your computer up a bit higher if needed. Make sure it's stable, though.
Focus on the meeting. Don't be distracted with your phone or paperwork. Remember, if you were in the meeting in person, you wouldn't pull out your phone and check on your social media. Don't do it here, either.
So, it should go without saying, eating during a video conference is not a great idea. Same with lots of movement. It's best to focus solely on the meeting. Need a glass of water? Grab it before or after the meeting. Don't put yourself on mute and have a separate conversation, if it can be avoided. Sometimes, it can't. But keep that to a minimum.
Depending on which video conferencing platform you use, you can pick the view on the interface. Gallery keeps everyone in smaller viewable panes. If you go with the speaker view, the speaker will be the majority of the screen, with other attendees in smaller 'boxes'. It's up to you, or perhaps the meeting organizer, which view to use. But remember to make eye contact.
Do your best to include everyone in the meeting, just like you would if the meeting was in person. Some people may need to be asked, specifically, to speak up. Especially if you are the meeting organizer, do your best to include everyone.
Many video conferencing tools have some fun stuff, too. Users can select backgrounds, which can be either fun or professional.
Some platforms interface to play games, too. So if the video meetings are getting too business-y, book another gathering to play some games together. It's a great way to keep connected with your team. Or family and friends.
Video meetings deliver great efficiency in terms of reducing transit time, connecting for 5 minutes or 5 hours on the fly, and more. The trick to making them efficient is to be sure you treat them much the same as you would in person. Video meetings are here to stay. Make the most of them.