Remember that fateful video, the moment Professor Robert Kelly’s child burst into the room during his live broadcast with the BBC? With many of us working from home, safeguarding the office (or dining table) can feel like a daily battle.
Whilst a catch-up with the team might not be damaged by a poorly timed supermarket delivery, those more significant meetings may well be. As lockdown continues, with social distancing as the norm, conversations with investors and key stakeholders cannot be put on hold. They are more important than ever.
Whether you’re pitching for investment, or providing an update on the business, you need to be as professional as possible. That means not having to worry about having Peppa Pig as a backing track.
There’s a plethora of communication tools out there to help you stay connected but getting online is only half the battle. Once you’ve chosen the right platform, checked the Wi-Fi and cleared the room for any unseemly backdrops, it’s vital to prepare like you would for face to face meetings. Here are our tips on what to do on those important calls.
It’s important to check your tech, not only the Wi-Fi but making sure you are au fait with the platform you are using for the call. If you have one, remove the sticker from your webcam (yes, we have seen people forget this), check the microphone on your computer or test your headphones.
Set the scene and remove any unsightly, distracting or inappropriate objects, posters or pets from behind you. We noticed recently an individual on the news talking about lack of funding, with a bottle of Bollinger behind him! Whilst we might not be in a formal office environment it’s also worthwhile thinking about the audience you are meeting with and ensure that your outfit conveys the right message for the moment.
Position your camera at the right angle, it’s best to aim for shoulder level. Get your lighting right – people want to see you properly rather than being hidden in the shadows.
Find a space where you will not get interrupted. Tell those in your household that this is vital and only to interrupt in an emergency – this doesn’t include asking where the biscuits are! Whilst we doubt one interruption from a small person will damage your company too badly, this is the new normal so try and avoid it where possible. Switch your phone onto airplane mode or silent and close any background apps on your computer.
Old rules apply
The virtual world is no different to the real world but because you are not in front of people, being clear about your objectives is far more important. You need to focus the conversation and have a clear structure on who will lead the call – if you are the one leading the call, just as in the physical world, you need to lead the agenda. Let people have a bit of time to catch up with each other, allowing a lightness of humour, but then bring the participants into the agenda. Ensure that those who are presenting information have the opportunity to present their data and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to present any submissions or data as is appropriate for that meeting – this will ensure engagement.
Do say the C-word
We all know that these are unprecedented times and whilst it might feel like you can’t open an email without someone reminding you of this, it’s fine to talk about Coronavirus. It offers the opportunity for attendees to forewarn about any interruptions or considerations.
It’s good practice to put yourself on mute when you’re not speaking. That means any sounds beyond your control won’t be picked up. Some platforms also use sound to decide who should be on the focus screen during conference calls, you don’t want to pull focus at the wrong time. Do remember to un-mute yourself when it’s time to talk.
We know that ‘new normal’ is unusual but if you have any thoughts, queries or questions get in touch – we’re creating new articles every week to help leaders in this difficult time.