How to prepare for a video call
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How to prepare for a video call

22nd January 2020
By Tom Ladle

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail (what a classic). It’s true though, preparation and productivity go hand in hand, after all they do both begin with the letter p. The average employee wastes nearly 13 working days a year in ‘unproductive’ meetings[1]. This seems a teeny bit excessive and fundamentally avoidable. Video calls are a brilliant piece of tech when you find yourself away from the office but still need to hold productive meetings. There’s a knack to preparing for a video call, so here’s our top tips!

Optimise your objectives

A lot of unproductive meetings are a result of poor prep, they lack a purpose, so everyone uses it as an opportunity to vent and riff on various unrelated topics with an hour (more or less) of valuable time going down the drain. By setting clear objectives for yourself beforehand you are setting a promising precedent. Note to yourself what exactly you want to achieve with this meeting. Even if it does go a bit off course, you can use your objectives to steer it back (winning).

Test out the tech

Some of us are still wary when it comes to including video in our meetings. Showing your face on webcam feels very different to showing your face in real life, a potential reason for this is simply unfamiliarity. The more familiar you become with something the less you fear it. That’s why we’d recommend practising with the tech before your meeting. This will not only bolster your confidence around using the product but also make you more comfortable with your digital self. If you’re working from outside the office, make sure you choose a location with good lighting and void of any distractions. Lastly, using the product will give you some useful foresight and help you identify and resolve any tech issues that might happen.

Ace your agenda

Setting clear objectives is crucial but a bit useless if its only you who knows what they are. Let attendees know what you hope to achieve with the meeting. This will encourage everyone to bring their A game, as they know exactly how they can contribute. This point isn’t specific to meetings with video but still applies. Approach it just like you would a face-to-face meeting, they can be just as beneficial.

Video call products help with scheduling a meeting by making it easy to send out calendar invitations with all the meeting details and what you need to do to join. Use this invite as an opportunity to outline an agenda. Be sure not to overwhelm fellow attendees with too much information. Make your agenda as succinct and clear as you can, no one wants to read a mini epic before attending a meeting. An agenda that promises too much is a reliable indicator of unrealistic expectations.

Create suitable content

Part of preparing for a video call is acknowledging the limitations. Features such as screen share and present document make it easy to share content but the content you share on a screen may not be as engaging as it would be presenting face-to-face. Therefore, you need to ensure that the content you present is digitally engaging and easily digestible. People will have a shorter attention span in an online meeting, so your content should cater to this.

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/how-long-spend-meetings-year-thirteen-days-uk-workers-average-a8542861.html