It seems that we are all on video calls more than ever, right? But are we present? Are we engaging with our colleagues, clients and employees in ways that makes them feel seen and heard and appreciated? This is a hard time for nearly everyone and human connection is more important than ever. How do we stay focused and accomplish the goals of your online meetings while fostering important relationships? Let’s look at targeted ways we can remain present for the people who make up our businesses.
Find Common Ground
If there’s one thing most of us are missing right now, it’s the comfort of friendly, low-stress connections. The people we work with might not be our best friends, but the camaraderie that develops between co-workers and clients is an essential ingredient in any professional environment. It can be difficult to make these connections when everyone is working remotely, so it’s important to put some effort into finding common ground that isn’t necessarily work-related to cultivate meaningful relationships. Even the simplest questions will do when it comes to making someone feel welcome, seen, heard and valued. “How are you doing today?” is a fine place to start. “How was your weekend?” is another good one. It’s important to respect boundaries, and each case is different, but let people know you’re interested in them. They’ll appreciate it.
You might be a multi-tasking marvel capable of tackling ten things at once, but this skill will not serve you on a video call. The most useful skill in a video conference is letting the person speaking know that you are listening. Treat a video call as you would an in-person meeting and do not respond to alerts from other communication platforms. Give your attention to the screen, including making eye contact by doing your best to look toward your camera. We all tune out sometimes. That’s natural. But bring your attention back to the matter at hand and give the speakers the attention they deserve.
Asking focused questions provides feedback that indicates that you are engaged with the speaker’s message. Ask questions that further the topic at hand, solicit new ideas and drive toward accomplishing the goal of the meeting. And, of course, listen carefully to the responses to your questions.
The communication strategies outlined above can have a meaningful impact on your clients and colleagues, more so if they don’t need to squint to see you or strain to hear you. While you can get by with built-in laptop cameras and microphones, you will make a much better impression with easy to install hardware accessories that make your communication crystal clear.