The new coronavirus pandemic has re-signified the idea of meetings and gatherings, formerly informal or even very formal, now being divided by a screen, through which, literally, you are being filmed.
They are a few centimeters of focus exclusively on you and that means that things that would go unnoticed become highlighted on the screen of the boss, client or co-worker.
On the other hand, the interpretation becomes more literal, as some types of language, such as body language, cannot be evaluated in the same way that it was in a face-to-face encounter. All of this may be under control, but there are still external challenges in a shared environment that is not necessarily focused on work like you.
These are inevitable challenges, but they can be overcome. For many of us today, professional interactions are limited to Zoom windows or other video conferencing applications.
New rules for new communication
A publication by the Fast Company portal recalls that research shows that not only do constant video conferences drain your mental energy, they can also make it difficult to create real connections, due to heavy technology.
“I think the biggest difference is the speech rate, due to the delay time or low connectivity,” says Doug Aamoth, a longtime videoconferencing user and contributor to Fast Company. “Phrases like ‘Can you repeat that?’ And ‘Sorry, go ahead with what you’re saying’ are quite common “.
In addition, we are educated to behave in public environments from an early age and, as we grow up, we learn professional etiquette. Therefore, this new, virtual work environment can be challenging for many people. Is there a etiquette for videoconferencing behavior?
Fast Company talked to some experts to get definitive answers about using Zoom and other conferencing tools. Following, three questions and three answers found in the publication:
1. When can I turn off my video?
When you think about showing your face or not, try your best to look at your company’s past patterns. To begin, consider the context of the meeting, its agenda and the level of participation required.
“During our stand-up meetings, as well as in our company, we ask our team to continue with the video throughout the meeting, but keep the microphone off,” says Ryan Rafols, founder and CEO of Newchip Accelerator, specializing in accelerator programs remote and online.
Rafols explains that the purpose of the videoconference is to feel everyone’s presence as if they are sharing a physical environment. “For remote workers, if they have been remote because of Covid-19 or are just part of the remote workforce, it is important that they feel connected to the rest of the company,” he adds.
Muneeb Mushtaq, founder of technology startup Airzai, says that context is the most important consideration.
“Internal team meetings, where the entire company is present, should always require the team to use the video feed so that everyone feels more connected and encourages engagement and active participation in the discussion,” he says.
The executive recommends that the general tone of the conversation be evaluated. “When doing a quick check-in or brainstorming with some colleagues, there is room for flexibility,” says Mushtaq.
2. When should I mute the microphone?
As a general rule, it can be useful to mute the microphone until it is your turn to speak, providing less general confusion and a smoother process.
Mushtaq stresses that the subject of these internal meetings is crucial to determine. If a team member is about to present an important company announcement or expose a complex topic, participants should mute their microphones to avoid creating disturbing background noise and disrupting speaker flow.
On the other hand, smaller break-out meetings, which are generally more casual, depend on personal preferences. “You can choose how to interact based on the team’s discretion,” says Mushtaq.
Likewise, when meetings begin and the vibe seems less structured, there may be an opportunity to keep the microphone on, while you and your team members immerse themselves in casual conversations, the report recommends.
3. What should I do if my child or pet interrupts?
Everyone should understand that, although the worker is present and focused on work activities, the surrounding environment is not necessarily there. Therefore, children, pets and couriers can interrupt or hinder meetings.
That said, certain things are under your control – specifically, staying focused during meetings, despite your constantly updated Twitter feed’s siren call or texting.
To minimize interruptions or distractions, close the distracting tabs and silence notifications. Your boss may not be able to see you on social media, but your lack of recollection of meeting points later will make things pretty obvious that you were distracted, the publication points out.
“Lack of engagement becomes a big problem if your comments or experience are needed at the meeting and you check out,” says Dorie Clark, Communication Coach and contributor at Fast Company.
“One of the most common bad behaviors I have experienced with participants in virtual meetings is the lack of attention and general engagement,” says Mushtaq.
“Not paying attention to a meeting can lead to communication failures and poor overall performance. When there are several employees involved in this behavior, and the behavior goes unnoticed, it creates a culture of distraction and lethargy ”, he adds.
Instead, recognize that virtual meetings will have their limitations, but appreciate remote technology for its benefits, says Aamoth. “It is better to embrace technology and its many wonderful uses than to try to force it to replicate the experience in the office.”