Working remotely for the first time can be a scary prospect. And yet, the world has changed. So, how can you continue to help your customers stay connected to your team? Many people are turning to video conferencing tools, like Zoom, which we've been using for years here at InVerve.
Some people might be reluctant to use online video conferencing. Maybe you've seen the viral clips of the child who interrupted her dad's BBC interview on live television. Or maybe you've heard horror stories of people who have said very inappropriate things while wearing a live microphone.
The benefits, however, far outweigh the potential viral mishaps!
My team has been using Zoom for years and really ramped up the policy in 2019 when we adopted video-first. It's been invaluable for us to work with all of our clients, especially those who aren't based in Lansing. We've developed great relationships with remote clients, some of whom we've never met in person. With this tool, we've been able to provide all of our clients — near and far — with top notch service and creative digital marketing solutions.
With the widespread work-at-home shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic, here are our top eight suggestions to help you be more successful with Zoom or almost any other virtual meeting software:
1) Adopt a video-first policy
Video first means we always turn on our video to be seen during the meeting. Online meetings can be just as effective as in-person meetings. Seeing people's faces, their reactions and their level of interest in the topics can help build trust and keep discussions moving forward. Meeting via video saves travel time and costs for your business. For us, even when the client is local, driving across town drains precious time that could be spent creating work to build the client's business. But, turning on your video with your client will feel more like an in-person meeting.
2) Use recording features to be fully present
We often use Zoom's recording capabilities (with permission from all meeting attendees, of course) to give our creative team the freedom to listen carefully and respond to the client's questions or comments. It leaves note-taking for after the meeting and also helps answer any questions that come up later about the clients' wishes.
3) Get to the meeting early
This is the same rule for in-person meetings. By arriving early you show respect for the participants' time and demonstrate your commitment to the project and the client. If there are any technology glitches, setting up a bit early will give you time to resolve them before the meeting starts, including the next point.
4) Test the audio in advance
You don't want to blast your meeting participants wearing ear buds because you had your volume set up to heavy metal. And you don't want to start talking while you're still on mute. Test the audio, get familiar with the controls and learn to minimize background noise.
5) Have the documents open on your desktop
Fumbling around and shuffling papers is noisy and distracting. Clicking through files on your computer, even if you're using a second screen, is distracting and makes you look unprepared. Have the documents you need to reference open on your desktop and make sure that the they are on the screen that you are sharing if you have multiple screens. It's all part of preparing for the meeting.
6) Look at additional tools for a larger group or presentation format
If you need to connect larger rooms of people spread over geographic areas, check out the tools available in your system. Zoom Rooms allow room-to-room system conferencing very successfully. Along with room schematics, technical requirements and required hardware, Zoom has the details in its Help Center. Most virtual meeting tools have multiple ways to connect, particularly with larger groups.
7) Get feedback using meeting polls
Another cool tool available with Zoom is a meeting poll. It's a great way to set up an ice breaker, encourage participation by allowing the audience to pick which topics to discuss or simply to get feedback on how the meeting went overall. These types of tools help the meeting participants stay engaged and active despite the distance and technology separating them.
8) Explore the integrations available
Many of the virtual meeting products integrate with other software platforms you may be using. We love Zoom because it integrates with HubSpot, Office 365 and Google platforms we use regularly for all of our clients.
There's no need to feel isolated working from home or when you're not able to meet in person with clients or teammates. There's also no reason to feel intimidated by online tools that can help you connect. Learning to use a virtual meeting tool like Zoom shows clients you're accessible and available to help them during this crisis and beyond.