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Getting the most out of video for remote meetings

Getting the most out of video for remote meetings
(Image credit: Future)

Before now, most office workers would have encountered video conferencing whether that is for internal communications, client meetings or webinars - now, given the current situation we find ourselves in, the uptick in usage has been astounding. At Prezi, we’ve seen that the education sector, in particular, is becoming more and more reliant on video - even more so with instructors teaching remotely.

About the author

Spencer Waldron is Prezi’s Director of Global Communications.

It makes sense that more and more businesses are turning to video to manage their communications - after all, humans are intrinsically visual beings, and long emails and updates on company intranet sites just get lost in the noise of everyone's busy inbox and daily notifications. 

However, the rapid adoption of video has not always been smooth and so organisations need to review how, when and why it is being used. This refinement will assist in ensuring that explosive growth of video doesn’t die off, but becomes a steady increase as more companies rely upon - and see the advantage of - the medium.

With so many tools available today, why is effective communication and collaboration still a huge challenge for remote and distributed teams?

When an employee is working away from HQ, research shows they still want to feel closely aligned with the business. A recent study investigating the use of video in the workplace uncovered that 66% of UK office works say a human connection is vital when sharing work content on conference calls, and too often this is overlooked. Businesses need to look at ways in which teams can still feel engaged even when they are geographically far apart - this is where immersive video platforms can really help out. 

Video undoubtedly helps grab our attention for longer, but we’ve all been in those meetings where the presenter switches from their own image to screen share Powerpoint slides - this suddenly provides a cue for the viewer to check their smartphone or divert attention from the meeting. 

To combat this, there are tools that can integrate the presenter and visuals side by side in order to help them tell stories without breaking the flow by flitting between different screens.

Can video replace meetings altogether?

That’s an interesting one! What we know is that, with businesses and educators being forced to work remotely, video is now one of the only options when it comes to conducting meetings or teaching. Most businesses are using video with a good degree of effectiveness, but it’s certainly not a perfect situation. 

As many businesses have had an emergency transition to this way of working, they haven’t had the time to perfect what best practice looks like. In some cases people may be sitting on more meetings altogether in a bid to keep teams connected, and that isn’t necessarily the best way to keep the human connection alive and get all important messages across in a time-sensitive way. 

Any meeting which is just a status update can be transformed into a video, freeing up a lot of precious time. Video has another massive advantage in that it can help with productivity as it allows teams to continue to work on priority tasks, and then watch the video at a time which suits them. Stopping the disruption of workflow is essential for a productive team. 

I’ve worked remotely for six years in Amsterdam and the time difference means meetings get scheduled at inconvenient times. Now, I record talking points beforehand and send them to the team for review, and sometimes I’ll skip the meeting altogether. It's the best way to give valuable input without wasting time or productivity. When a meeting can’t be entirely replaced by a video, it can be shortened. 

Rather than having a long intro explaining what the meeting is about, a video could be shared giving all the participants context ensuring the meeting is only used for productive discussion or solution finding - opening up a completely different and more versatile way of working.

What tips or rules can help organisations use video in a more engaging way?

Video is like any technology; it takes time to get used to and to become fully ingrained with the way the business operates. That said, to speed up that process and to ensure that video aids in keeping that strong connection with distributed teams, businesses should definitely think about empowering staff with a list of best practices or a guide to "video presentation etiquette". 

Some basic tips which will help teams create engaging videos are as follows: 

1. Just speak to one person: Imagine your speaking to one person as the thought of presenting to a large group of people can be intimidating and affect your performance. A great visual tip is to place a photo behind the camera and direct the presentation to them. 

2. Practice: It’s important to rehearse what needs to be said and to familiarize yourself with the presentation. This will increase your confidence when recording and help ensure the video goes smoothly. 

3. Don’t write an entire script: Planning what you’re going to say is integral to creating a good presentation but scripting the entire video sounds very unnatural. Write down five or six key points you want to address and have them serve as your reminders. 

4. Remember the ‘why’: The passion behind why you created the video in the first place is very important - there is nothing more powerful. If teams remind themselves why they are creating the video, their intent will shine through. 

5. 20% more energy: In front of the camera it is very easy to sit still and reel off the presentation, however, this will not captivate an audience’s attention. When recording a video, give that extra 20% as it will create much more engaging content.