More Efficient Phone Meetings and Video Conferences: 5 Tips on Choosing Communication Tools and Technology

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Planning, organizing and executing telephone and video conferences can be stressful, including technical issues and inefficiencies. 5 tips on how to become more productive.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Telephone Meetings and Video Conferences: Like Darth Vader on Sylt

The topic of telephone and video conference causes much suffering in Company, On the one hand, because the technology is far from being as mature as the providers would have us believe. I remember my participation in weekly video meetings: The first half hour was basically always on it to set up the microphone for all participants and check whether all were really there.

Our readers also tell stories Best of HR –® of microphones that make participants sound like Darth Vader on Sylt, and the stress of multilingual conferences. And the numerous feedback on this topic showed me: There seems to be a great amount of suffering on this topic - and need for action.

5 tips for better phone meetings and video conferencing

So here are our 5 tips for better and more efficient phone and video conferencing:

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  1. Which technique is necessary? First of all, you should clarify which technique is needed at all: is it sufficient, for example, to only talk to one another; you also need video, a common screen, etc.
  2. Compatibility. : It is important that the systems of the participants are compatible with the technology used. It does not do any good to resort to fantastically exotic systems that offer great features but do not work for all participants.
  3. Goals and theme of the meeting. Not only the technology counts, but also the content. In order to keep the conversation as short and efficient as possible, the following questions should be clarified: What is the topic of the meeting, what is it about? How exactly does the agenda look? Which goal should be achieved with the meeting?
  4. Participant and moderator. : Do the participants know each other? What previous knowledge do the participants have? Is the knowledge heterogeneous or homogeneous? And who moderates the whole thing?
  5. Time frame. So that the telephone conference does not lead to the Uferlose, should be specified exactly: Is there a fixed time frame? How much time is available to each participant to present their own ideas?

Choosing the right form of communication decides on success

One thing is clear: Decisive for a well-functioning communication among colleagues is the choice of the right communication tool for every suitable opportunity.

Regular meetings are certainly great, but the colleagues overseas have as little of it as from the morning scheduled telephone call. So you should think carefully about what form of communication, when, for which topic and which team is suitable.

5 tips for choosing the right form of communication

But when do you actually pick up the phone, when to mail or chat, and when is the "time-eating meeting" the best? We have 5 tips.

  1. eMail: Since our inbox anyway overflowing, should also eMails be used wisely. Often caused by a misunderstanding for a long time eMail-Diskussionen. Since it would be better, one reaches for the phone. Because eMails are the most common reason for interruptions in everyday work and can usually be summarized in a three-minute call. Nevertheless, mails are very handy. One does not disturb the recipient - unless he allows it - and can record larger questions in writing. However, between request and response can take days to weeks. Therefore, this means of communication is not suitable for dealing with urgent matters.
  2. phone: For short questions, it's best to pick up the phone. A conversation creates a personal level and trust. The voice sets the direction of interpretation of a message and the conversation takes place synchronously. I keep hearing eMails are more practical. But that's not true! What's faster for a quick question than a short phone call (assuming the caller is available)? Is the dodge on eMail Not so connected with the fact that people just do not like to make phone calls, because you can recognize by the voice his true intention and the sentences can not bend forever?
  3. Chat: The chat is also used for a short exchange of information. He has the advantage that you can see if someone is currently available (chat status). Also in the chat question and answer are relatively synchronous. In addition, chatting is quieter than talking on the phone and therefore preferable for offices that are currently working concentrated. Further advantages: files can be sent via chat and Outlook stores guided chat dialogs in a separate folder (in the category "eMail").
  4. Four-on-one meeting: Oral bilateral exchange is a very effective form of meeting between two people. If you are well prepared, this type of meeting is efficient. Nevertheless, a private conversation requires a relatively long time. Therefore, only larger questions should be clarified.
  5. Regular meetings: They are usually inconvenient or even hated. At least the recurring, if there is really nothing to discuss, but you can not cancel ten people. Nevertheless, agenda-based and well-planned meetings are essential. There is often no other way of discussing project milestones, team exchanges, and decision-making in boards.

Direct communication is better than technology

In the whole discussion, when and which means of communication should be used in the best and most efficient way, unfortunately one thing comes too short: that one can also stop by colleagues in the office for a short time in order to talk to them.

With how many of your colleagues are you in more or less active personal exchange? I do not mean private, but in everyday work. It's not that many? Then visit your colleague the next time in his or her office to answer the short question personally instead of per eMail deliver. This also has a few other advantages: They move you, make you known, are later recognized more and create confidence.

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5 tips for spontaneous communication with colleagues in the office

Some people are afraid to address colleagues directly. Here are 5 tips on how direct communication can succeed directly.

  1. Check whether you also the facts by eMail can clarify: If you need more than three mails, you should schedule a meeting.
  2. Prepare yourself: Of course, this only applies to more complex issues and not if you just have a quick question. By the way: all participants can only prepare if they have an agenda.
  3. Stay with the topic: Spontaneous meetings are also so unpopular because they are afraid to be disturbed at work. Therefore, make sure that the frame for the content does not shift.
  4. Consider follow-ups strategically: Is a follow-up meeting necessary? Discuss the follow-ups together so your colleagues know why you want to meet again.
  5. No constant habit: Without question, occasional spontaneous meetings are awesome, but it should not become a solid habit, that is unproductive. If regular meetings are necessary, it should become a meeting. And: Give your colleagues and employees enough meeting-free time. Why not a meeting-free day per week?

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