"Sorry, go ahead," you both say after interrupting each other, only to start speaking again at the same time.
Then you apologise for cutting in and the cycle continues. Finally, a 30-second cold war silence ensues, both you and your client just sitting there watching each other over the screen. The transmission lag got the best of you. Military communication suddenly makes sense and you’re tempted to use terms such as over, repeat, and roger that.
How did a simple video call turn into such an awkward ordeal?
BBC Dad and Poor Jennifer are asking themselves this same question every night. Both of their video conferences went viral overnight, for all the wrong yet perfectly human reasons. And with video meetings at the forefront of this remote work revolution currently underway, we’re bound to see more ‘’gone wrong’’ video calls in the coming days. Pexip Engage is putting a stop to that. Working from home is stressful on its own and you should be able to strike up – if not enjoy – a virtual conversation. Here are eight tips for running more engaging, professional video meetings with your clients.
Before the video meeting with your client is due to start, open your device camera app and set the framing and lighting right. You can also test your sound levels and clarity by playing your voice back using a recorder app. Also, set the bar high when it comes to your Wi-Fi speed, literally. Your router may be crowded with your family at home, but keep in mind slow internet speed is the main culprit for poor connectivity and network delays.
Even in a virtual meeting, eye contact is the most important type of body language – maintaining it means you’re actively listening to the person behind the screen. We know you haven’t had a chance to visit the barbershop in a while but try not to get overly fixated with how you look on camera. Keep your eyes on the client or look directly into that round lens and you’re already one step closer to effective communication.
Children and pets are adorable, but your explaining of a client’s financial situation shouldn’t be accompanied by screaming or barking in the background. Keep your home office free of distractions and focus only on the call at hand. Figures suggest more than a third of American adults zone out during a business call. Lose track of what your client is saying while checking your email, and you may very well lose them, too.
As soon as you greet each other, advise your client to give you a shout if the signal starts cutting off. This way, you can repeat yourself and make sure no points go amiss. If you seem to be having a consistently poor connection, hanging up and dialling the person again might solve the issue, as can lowering your bandwidth.
Breathing, background noise, and echo can be distracting when you’re trying to talk. Pressing the mute button when your client has the word will ensure they finish their thoughts coherently and will prevent you from unintentionally interjecting.
When you’re sharing your screen or running a presentation in-call, ask your clients to confirm they can see it up. Make sure you do this before you start discussing the visual; the last thing you want to do is start breaking down a graph your client is frantically trying to find.
You may be an ardent collector of war memorabilia but having a WWII helmet hanging on the wall of your home office won’t strike the right chord with some people. Keep your workspace clutter-free and make sure you have plenty of natural light coming in. You can adjust your brightness levels prior to the meeting in the camera app of your device – this way, your clients will be talking to you, not your silhouette.
Finally, dress the part. You may need to stand up during the call, so steer clear of the ‘pants optional’ home office dress code. Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t need to put on a three-piece suit for each client meeting. Dress up in a way that makes you feel comfortable and looks professional - business casual will do just fine.
With technology taking over our lives, this new way of meeting with your clients may feel like a shock to your system. It's important to keep in mind that, while the meetings you're holding are virtual, the relationships you're building with your clients are very much real. Start practising these tips and with time you'll start connecting with them in a more engaging, profound way.