We recently published the State of Collaboration report, which included many interesting details on the remote future of work. For instance, did you know that 57% of Gen Zers, half of Millennials, and even 46% of gen Xers work remotely at least once a week?
As remote work becomes more standard practice, different technological solutions have hit the market to assist remote workers and help them accomplish their daily tasks.
One of these solutions is video conferencing software. In this article, we'll teach you what a video conference call is, why they're beneficial, and how to host one successfully.
What's a Video Conference Call?
A video conference call is exactly what it sounds like: a conference or meeting conducted via video. Participants log into a specific video conference software and are then able to collaborate in real-time with each other — even if said participants are located in different areas.
For example, a remote employee in Paris, France could join a conference call with a remote colleague in Beijing, China and their boss in New York City, but still converse face to face.
The Power of Video Conferencing
Video conferencing, in many ways, enables the remote work revolution we're currently experiencing. Without a dependable way to collaborate, many businesses would never allow their employees to work out of office, let alone from distant corners of the world.
But for the purposes of this article, we want to focus on three specific video conferencing benefits: reduced travel expenses, better attendance, and improved productivity.
Let's look at each of these in greater detail...
1. Reduced Travel Expenses
The most obvious benefit of video conference calls — especially for remote teams — is the reduction in travel-related expenses. If your company has employees located in different countries, getting them all together in one room would be costly.
Flights, hotels, and meals would need to be provided. Depending on the number of remote employees on your team, that could amount to thousands of dollars per meeting.
A video conferencing app removes these unnecessary expenses. Companies simply invest in a proven software and host meetings via the internet instead.
2. Better Attendance
You don't schedule company meetings for no reason, do you? Of course not. When you gather your team together, you have a specific reason or goal in mind. Which means you probably want as many team members to attend as possible.
Video conferences ensure more of your employees can attend your meetings. Like we mentioned above, remote employees will be able to participate without incurring prohibitive expenses. But other team members, traveling salespeople, for example, will be more likely to attend as well, no matter what day you decide to host your meeting on.
3. Improved Productivity
Lastly, video conferences boost team productivity. This is because of the improved communication they enable. When each of your team members knows exactly what's required of them, they can focus all of their energy on completing those specific tasks.
They won't have to spend time deciphering lengthy email messages or waiting for replies to clarify duties. And when problems do arise, you can solve them much quicker due to the face to face nature of video conferencing apps.
Host an Effective Video Conference Call in 5 Steps
The benefits of video conferencing software are clear — especially for teams that employ remote workers. If you're ready to host your own video conferences, follow these five steps:
1. Select the Right Video Conference App
The first thing you need to do is choose the video conferencing software you will use. There are plenty of options, each with their own pros, cons, and quirks. Here are a few popular options:
Zoom is one of, if not the biggest name in video conference software. Its platform is easy to use and includes handy features such as text chat with searchable history and file sharing.
What really makes Zoom indispensable to some teams, though, is its suite of features that go beyond traditional video conferencing tools. For example, Zoom can be used to host live webinars with up to 100 participants and 10,000 viewers.
If you're looking for a fully capable video conference app and a way to easily host webinars, Zoom is a good option.
Looking for an effective video conference app and already use G Suite? It sounds like Google Hangouts Meet might be the perfect solution for you.
Google Hangouts Meet is the professional version of Google Hangouts, a consumer-level tool that offers basic video conferencing features for free. And just like every other Google product, Hangout Meet integrates seamlessly with Gmail, Google Calendar, and the rest of G Suite.
As far as features go, Hangouts Meet sports an intuitive interface and the ability to access meetings on computer, tablet, or smartphone devices.
While lesser known than the other two options mentioned, Highfive is a fantastic video conference app that makes hosting virtual meetings incredibly easy.
First, users don't have to deal with pin codes, they simply click the meeting they were invited to and begin participating. Highfive also doesn't restrict the number of meetings a user can host or the length of said meetings.
For teams that host video conferences on a regular basis, Highfive has optional hardware that runs in tandem with its software.
2. Plan Your Video Conference Call
Next, you need to plan your video conference call. Why did you schedule the meeting in the first place? What topics do you need to cover and which employees need to participate?
These are important questions that need to be answered before your meeting starts. But knowing the answers to them isn't enough. We also suggest creating a meeting outline and sending it to each participant beforehand. That way they can be as prepared as possible too.
Lastly, make sure that every meeting has a monitor; someone who's tasked with keeping the video conference on track and ensuring every participant gets a chance to speak. That person might be you. But if you want to focus on delivering information, assign the job to another person on your team.
There's nothing worse, not to mention less productive, than when a boss calls a meeting and then spends the first 20 minutes gathering his or her thoughts. Be prepared!
3. Set Rules for Your Digital Meeting
Part of preparing for your first video conference is setting rules and/or guidelines for each of your participants to follow. For instance, common courtesy should always be displayed.
When someone is talking, everyone else should be paying attention, not checking email or scrolling through their phones. Also, make sure that your participants aren't constantly trying to talk over one another. This is wildly unproductive and really rude.
Instead, give everyone a turn to talk so that all opinions are voiced, heard, and catalogued. This may be difficult, but is definitely worth the added effort.
Just because your meeting is being held over the internet rather than in an office space doesn't mean participants can act like animals. Always enforce strict common courtesy rules and everyone will benefit, guaranteed.
4. Keep Your Videos Conferences Concise
Business meetings, in general, should be as concise as possible. This is even more true for video conferences that likely include participants who work from different remote locations.
Your team has a lot going on. They don't have time to waste two hours rambling about irrelevant topics. You probably don't either. So do everyone a favor and do your best to keep video conferences as short as possible, while still sharing all relevant information.
One of the easiest ways to shorten digital meeting times is to only invite people who need to be there. If a colleague can't add anything of value to the conference, they shouldn't attend.
5. Record Your Video Conference
Finally, make sure that you record your video conferences so that they can be referred back to later or shown to colleagues who weren't able to make the live meeting. This will save you so much hassle down the road! Rather than trying to explain every detail discussed to absentees, simply send them a link to the video and let them catch up on their own time.
Fortunately, most video conference apps include a recording feature. But if your tool of choice doesn't, you can always use CloudApp's screen recording capabilities to capture every detail of your digital meetings and securely store them in the cloud for future access.
Video Conferencing Best Practices
You now know the basics of hosting a successful video conference call. Before we let you go, we want to share a few video conferencing best practices with you as well. Keep these three things in mind and your digital meetings will be more enjoyable and effective:
1. Be Professional
It may be tempting to forego professionalism during video conferences. The fact that you and your team aren't actually in the same room together might make your online powwows seem more informal. This is a mistake!
Make sure your video conferences meet or exceed the general professionalism standards of traditional, in-office gatherings. Here's how:
- Look the Part: If you work remotely, you probably dress more casually than most office workers. You might even rock your PJs all day long. The clothes you wear in your own home is your business — except when you have to jump on a video conference call. Make sure you look presentable during your digital meetings. That means wearing a work-acceptable wardrobe and adhering to basic personal hygiene best practices.
- Pay Attention to Your Surroundings: In a similar vein, make sure your surroundings give off a professional vibe as well. Your workspace may be a disaster, but at least ensure that the small area behind you (the space caught on camera) is clean and tidy. Also, attend virtual conferences in a quiet area. Loud noises are distracting.
- Know How to Use Your Video Conference Software: Lastly, take some time to learn your video conferencing app of choice so that you can operate it smoothly during your online powwows. This tip is especially important for meeting leaders. 20 minutes spent fiddling with technology is 20 minutes wasted and will make you look unprofessional.
If you follow these three simple tips, you should be able to both host and attend video conferences with the proper amount of professionalism.
2. Use Visuals
In-person meetings allows attendees to easily share detailed visuals like graphs, charts, and videos to illustrate important details and keep things interesting. Video conferencing has restrictions in this area. You can't simply pass a printed visual to the attendee on your right.
Fortunately, modern technology makes sharing visuals during video conferences easy!
Take CloudApp, for example. Our visual collaboration software gives users access to powerful screen and webcam recording, GIF creation, and image annotation features. These specialized content types can then be sent to anyone with the click of a button.
When you're trying to explain a complex digital workflow, you can simply record your screen or annotate a screenshot and send the resulting content to your colleagues to be viewed during your video conference.
Visual content keeps people interested. CloudApp makes it quick and easy to create and send visual content to any remote team member.
3. Minimize Distractions
Last but certainly not least, always do your best to minimize distractions during your video conferences. Many of the professionalism tips we outlined above apply here as well. By dressing appropriately, ensuring your environment is conducive to digital gatherings, and learning how to use your video conference app of choice will help keep attendees focused.
You can also do your team a favor and turn off cell phone and email notifications (or at least set them to silent) so they don't interrupt your meeting's flow.
Distractions have two major consequences: they hamper creativity and reduce productivity. Your team won't be able to generate as good of ideas if they're thought processes or constantly interrupted. And your video conferences will run on for far longer than they need to if you have to keep stopping to address disturbances.
Empower Your Remote Team With Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is a necessity for many modern businesses. As more and more workers begin to work remotely, video conferencing apps allow teams to stay in touch and maintain peak productivity levels.
Fortunately, you now know exactly how to host a successful video conference. Just remember to follow the five steps we outlined above:
- Select the Right Video Conference App
- Plan Your Video Conference Call
- Set Rules for Your Digital Meeting
- Keep Your Video Conferences Concise
- Record Your Video Conference
And don't forget about CloudApp! Our tool's screen and webcam recording, GIF creation, and image annotation features will enhance any virtual gathering. The best part? CloudApp can be used for free. Download our solution today and get started.