What if you and your customers could look forward to video conferencing instead of seeing it as a necessary evil?
According to a 2019 study by korn ferry, "89% of workers say they waste time each week attending unproductive meetings and calls."
This current trend of poorly executed meetings gives you ample opportunity to shine as a video meeting fan.
You can transform this aspect of the customer journey with the right execution, resulting in a more fulfilling role and more consistent customer relationships that will increase your value in the marketplace.
Before the meeting
To build a solid foundation for an excellent meeting, preparation comes into play.
Do your homework
It's helpful to know if your participants – or someone close to them – has recently accomplished an achievement that involves congratulating or rejoicing with them, or simply asking about it.
Just want to do proper education to make sure you have the right amount of up-to-date, meaningful knowledge. Trust me; it's worth the extra 5-10 minutes of research and will be a game changer for both parties.
Build questions and answers into your agenda
Especially in our industry, callbacks on video calls are inevitable.
Notwithstanding the verbal summary mentioned later in this article, reserve the last five minutes for questions and answers.
If you neglect this practice, you risk running out of time or rushing your exit, both of which are no-no's for video calls.
Send manual reminders
First, you should send a manual meeting reminder an hour or two before game time.
Automation is not fail-safe, so manual reminders ensure your participants show up despite technological glitches.
Manual reminders also add a nice human element by customizing the experience and communicating your involvement and interest.
Consider inserting light humor into these reminders to build rapport with participants.
In short, this practice serves as an easy way to go the extra mile.
Confirm audio & video
The most important pre-meeting check is to start your software 5-10 minutes early to make sure your audio and video are fully functional.
You want to see what your background looks like and confirm that your bedhead is under control.
Notice the mute button and be careful not to mute yourself during the conversation!
During the meeting
No matter how many times you've participated in video calls, there's always some discomfort.
Eliminate embarrassment from the start with a question or comment about your participants or their businesses.
The ideal scenario is that you celebrate something with the participants, as we described above.
This approach may not be as creative as fun icebreaker suggestions, but it sure is.
And it enhances the customer experience by adding another layer of personal touch.
Here are some examples of life events:
- Brand anniversary: the company recently celebrated (or is about to celebrate) an anniversary since its inception.
- Role anniversary: a participant recently celebrated (or is about to celebrate) their anniversary in their current role, company or industry.
- Current funding.
- Last post/article.
- Current project or case study.
- Redesign of the brand and / or website.
- Wedding day.
- Birth of a child.
- Favorite victory of the professional sports team.
Note: most of these events are not limited directly to your students; you can also refer to one of their loved ones.
Communicate hard stops
One foul of the meeting party, in my opinion, is not communicating a hard stop at the beginning of the meeting.
Let participants know as soon as possible that you need to end at the appointed time.
Failure to do so can lead to an unpleasant end of a meeting, depending on how time is managed.
Repeat the agenda
Remind invitees of the meeting timeframe for strategic reasons and confirm that it still works for them.
Something like, "it looks like we have 30 minutes scheduled for this meeting. Still works for you?"
Second, do not assume that the participants will read the itinerary.
Make sure they know what is on the listing and allow them to make an addendum.
This crucial step in the meeting raises the right expectations and gives the participants a sense of control, which will reassure them both.
Stick to the agenda
We all know that this is much more difficult than it sounds.
It is important to ensure that you use the agenda as a guide for conducting the meeting.
Do not drive into areas that have not been previously agreed upon by both parties.
First, it may be considered unprofessional to digress on tangents not included in the original talking points.
The reality is that people do this all the time, and it will likely go unnoticed.
However, what will not go unnoticed: A tightly run meeting that sticks to the agenda and will stand out from the crowd every time.
How to respond to peripheral requests
What about difficult scenarios where the participant interjects a comment or question that would be guaranteed to derail or delay the meeting?
In this situation, it is best to simply acknowledge the question and ask permission to address it at the end of the meeting.
This offers another way to give your guests a sense of control while efficiently managing your meetings.
The participant will also appreciate that you bring up their request at the end of the meeting, as this is another indicator that they have been listened to and prioritized.
At the end of the meeting, you have two options.
If you have a hard stop, tactfully highlight the success of the meeting and ask for permission to answer their question via email or the like.
You can even add it to the next meeting if necessary.
Even if you have some flexibility, you should still emphasize the successful meeting before addressing peripheral concerns to make sure they understand you've held up your end of the bargain.
Provide a verbal summary of the meeting (see below) and emphasize that you ended on time, indicating that you managed the meeting well and were respectful of time.
The summary is followed by a comment like, "fred, you had a question earlier about ________. I have a little more time if you would like to extend the meeting, or we can address this via email if that works better for you."
Note that you tactfully highlight that they extend the meeting.
Provide a verbal summary
An oral summary of a meeting is one of my favorite things to do when it's over.
It improves thoroughness, provides helpful summaries, and creates a less awkward ending.
These summaries should be comprehensive and highlight all the main talking points of the meeting, including side topics.
They should also be concise, bullet-point statements.
Finish on time
This can not be overestimated.
First of all, it communicates that you respect everyone's time.
Second, it shows that you know how to run a meeting efficiently.
And if you get everything you need done in less than the allotted meeting time, feel free to end the meeting early. Who doesn't love to reclaim a few minutes of their day?
Send an email summary after the meeting
This is just one best practice.
Yet how many of us are guilty of neglecting this step?
This should be a simple email with a bullet point for everything discussed, including action items.
You should also ask recipients to confirm that nothing has been overlooked.
Consider practicing a few of these tactics at a time until they become a habit.
Follow that up by implementing a few more.
This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, which will prevent you from improving your video call management skills.
Mastering video calls is an easy way to earn the respect and appreciation of those you meet with.
Equally noteworthy is the great satisfaction you will experience when you conduct your meetings with finesse.
We look forward to you becoming the digital marketer that everyone is looking forward to!