Virtual Team Meetings
Video or Audio Conferencing?
Video or Audio Conferencing?
Video Conferencing software is arguably the most important team tool for organisations trying to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The business world has changed significantly and perhaps permanently, since the arrival of this virus. This is especially true for those organisations which were previously reliant on fixed premises, physically occupied by numbers of employees. In order to cope with the demands of quarantines and social distancing, the primary solution for many businesses involved varying degrees of remote working.
Working from home or from physically separate locations meant that virtual team meetings became the norm for many organisations. This meant that video conferencing tools became an essential requirement, rather than one which was perhaps seen as optional before the pandemic.
There are some clear advantages to virtual team meetings. For example:
While a straightforward audio call may be fine for routine one-to-one communication, holding virtual team meetings is another matter. Many experienced managers would agree that video calls offer some clear advantages over one-dimensional, audio conversations. This is due to the often-overlooked importance of body language. When we refer to body language in the workplace we normally mean the messages we convey by: voice tone; eye contact/movement; facial expression; physical gestures; posture and body movement. For example, here are some things to think about in relation to each of these elements in a face-to-face meeting:
When considering virtual meetings, audio calls may enable us to hear words and voice tone, but they don’t help us to pick up on often critical messages transmitted by other aspects of body language. And as Peter Drucker once said:
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.
Effective team meetings require us to do more than hear spoken words. Team leaders need to be on the look-out for signs of engagement or disengagement, along with any other indicators of emotional response. Often verbal language and body language don’t match and this can be best gauged by via video rather than audio calls.
Of course it’s important not to overdo things. There is emerging evidence that too many meetings, especially those using video, can be counter-productive. There are worries about burn-out, de-motivation from lack of trust, and dis-empowerment from the use of tracking methods. If the use of video is being perceived in this light by your teams, try limiting the number and nature of video meetings. Or if this is not possible, experiment, for example only using video during the introductory/greetings phase of a meeting.
Video conferencing software makes remote communication with co-workers and teams easy, but which of the available options is best for you? There are numerous platforms on the market, making it difficult to choose the most appropriate in terms of cost, reliability, functionality, and so on.
Below is a list of some of the best video conferencing tools currently available. This includes some platforms which are as much for personal use as for business, but which could be worth considering for small or growing businesses. However, it may be necessary to purchase more advanced versions of the basic free platforms, to make full use of these for business purposes. Follow the links to each platform’s site or click here for Tech Radar’s detailed review of each:
Even though we’re looking forward to the end of the current pandemic, there can be no doubting that it has changed the way many organisations will operate in the future. Given the overall cost benefits of remote working, it’s clear that it will be utilized much more frequently in years to come. Understanding how best to manage it, and which technology to utilize, will be a key management issue for all managers.
Regardless of whether you’re managing a real or a virtual team meeting, the basics should still apply! Take a take a look at two more of our pages to help you run better meetings:
If you want to get better at leading team development, this article is a good place to start. But if you want to take your team leadership to the next level, here is a great set of tools to get you on your way.
For example, you might want to facilitate a meeting which encourages your team to build a shared understanding of what teamwork means in your specific context. That is, what it means to your team and more widely, to your organisation.
To do this though, words are often not enough. Building teamwork is also about what you do, starting with that shared understanding of teamwork, and agreeing together what you value.
That’s exactly what our “teamwork definition” tool is designed to do. You’ll find this tool, plus a wealth of other resources for team leaders in our colossal Team Building Bundle.
Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than define teamwork, build it!
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