Multi party conference calls using platforms like Zoom, Skype, GoTo or Webex can be challenging. At best they can work well and meetings can be productive. At worst, they can be a waste of time and leave participants feeling frustrated and demotivated.
Here are a few ideas that aim to help you get the best from your next technology based meeting.
Arrive Early Arrive 5 minutes early to get the technology working (if it is a platform you have used before, 15 minutes or more if you have been asked to join using a platform you have never heard of, or used before), otherwise it is likely you'll waste the first 10 or 15 minutes of your meeting. This clearly has a big impact when there are many others waiting for the meeting to begin.
Get the audio right
As the primary means of communication getting the audio right is key. If possible use headphones as these are are better than built in microphone and speakers. If the platform allows, do a sound check: test your microphone and earphones.
Use a quiet environment Try to make your call from a quiet environment. Remember when your microphone is on, all participants will hear your background noises.
Laptop users, be aware that your microphone is quite close to your computers keyboard. If your microphone is on and you are typing, all the other participants might hear your keyboard taps competing with what's being said.
Stay on 'mute' if not talking When you are not talking, mute your microphone so your are not contributing to inevitable (and hopefully low level) background noise. Think of the mute button as connected to your lips. When your lips are still, the mute button should be on, as you leave the airways clear for others to respond to your input.
In an ideal call there should only ever be one mic live at any given moment.
If your computer audio quality is low, you can dial in on a landline, and phone for audio and computer for video.
Speech Speak clearly and slowly, especially in international meetings where not everyone shares the same first language.
When you first speak, (especially if you intend to talk for a few minutes) you could begin by saying,
"Just before I get into the body of what I'd like to say, how loud and clear am I?"
Others can respond in the chat window with a number 1-10, where 1 is I can't hear much, and 10 is loud and clear.
If you get lots of scores below 5, consider trying to adjust your audio before proceeding, there is little point talking to 6 people for 5 minutes if they can't hear you.
Check in At the start of the call, when you introduce yourself, consider getting feedback from the host or call facilitator on the quality of your audio. ("Welcome Fred, I'm hearing your voice 10/10 loud and clear, or Welcome Fred, I'm hearing your voice 3/10, not very clear and hard to understand... etc.)
Bandwidth considerations & WFH
Quitting other apps, browsers, mail, Skype etc. will free up bandwidth for your video call. If you have poor bandwidth and are WFH with others online… ask your children to take a break from YouTube etc.