Video conferencing is now the norm. Whether connecting with friends or family, or for work, Zoom and FaceTime calls are filling our days. So, it is not surprising that every public relations and communications professional worth their salt has blogs and YouTube videos on best practices. Out of the near bazillion social media posts on how to Zoom like a pro, a few common sense recommendations stood out. These are very appropriate for any ASP related video conferences, including the townhalls and Diversity Committee events.
The first suggestion is to arrive early to establish a connection with the people on other side of the screen. If it is a small group, introduce yourself and break the ice with some small talk. Ask where the other participants are located, what the weather is like, about a sports team or if they have seen your favourite TV show. This is a chance to show you care. If it is a meeting with lots of people like an ASP townhall, being early lets the organizers know that you are taking the meeting seriously and that it is important to you. Also, refer to people by name, and not just because it is polite. We’ve all been in those meetings where there is confusion around who is talking to who. This is especially true in large meetings where there may be multiple people with the same name. The next recommendation is to draw a smiley face on a post-it note and put it next to the camera on your computer or phone. When on a conference call, we tend to look at our own image when we are talking. This means we are not making eye contact with the folks on the other end. The post-it note is a reminder to look at the camera so you are making eye contact with the other people on the call – like we would do in a face to face meeting. The smiley face is also a reminder to smile! Because we are separated by pixels, it is very important to smile and put on a warm, friendly demeanor. Jokes, tone, and subtlety can easily be lost in electronic communication but a genuine smile, is always a smile. Finally, if you are presenting, people have joined the video conference to see you – not a PowerPoint presentation.
A good rule of thumb is that when the presenter shares, the audience cares. Facts and figures may be important, but too many and they become boring quickly. To engage the folks on the conference call, tell stories that are impactful to them. Before getting on Zoom, think about what is important to your audience, and build narratives around their priorities. Ask yourself, what do I want people to take away from the meeting. Three takeaways is a good goal. And the last item is to enjoy yourself because, through digital osmosis, the participants will also enjoy themselves. Good luck and happy conferencing