21 Apr 2020

Video call learnings from the last five weeks

In today’s challenging times, companies and organizations are increasingly using video calls to maintain connectivity and exchange. Connection problems, data protection issues and virtual coffee breaks influence this type of collaboration. Online meetings promote personal exchange, but still have some disadvantages. Basic rules help to overcome them.

Three advantages: efficient, connecting, flexible

  • Efficiency: The time for arrival and departure of a meeting is eliminated. Since many video sessions are more structured and clearly led, the length of the session decreases.
  • Connectivity despite distance: Video conferences bring closeness to teams working in different locations. For cross-location or international organisations, this is an opportunity to continue to conduct meetings in this way – and to cultivate the team spirit beyond their own four (office) walls.
  • Flexibility: Meetings can be called in the shortest possible time. Organisations are more flexible and can act quickly when they have to…

Three disadvantages: feel, concentrate, structure

  • Interpersonal is missing: We see faces on the screen but gestures and body language are hardly noticeable and visible. With the non-verbal communication missing, conversation situations are more difficult to assess.
  • Short attention span: Looking at the screen requires a lot of concentration. The attention span is thus shorter. With regular interaction between the participants, everyone remains on board and attentive. Tools like Miro or Trello support this.
  • Create structure: Video calls without structure and without clear guidance are frustrating. It is essential to define the goal and agenda, the leadership and the setting in advance.

Top ten rules for online meetings
If you follow these ten rules, you are on the right track when it comes to online etiquette:

1. Preparation and structure: via video this is even more important for preparation, expectation and efficiency
2. Adhere to punctuality and times: appear on time and do not exceed the given (detailed) hours
3. Discipline: even if sound and/or video are switched off: eating, going away from the call, working in parallel is inattentive
4. Question of style: in the home office, you can also dress a bit more casual. Nevertheless, you are allowed to put on a shirt depending on the topic or the audience.
5. On/Off: especially for large groups – microphone mute when no speech is requested
6. Consideration: let each other speak out and ask for or pass on the word by a show of hands
7. Tidy: doors and windows closed, no mess in the background
8. Sound: headphones and microphone provide quality in transmission and reception
9. Picture: no backlight, good lighting conditions sharpen the picture, camera at eye level
10. Technology: stable web connection, good user knowledge of the tools (introduce!) and faultless hardware (see also points 8/9)

BBC.com also gives “Five tips to look best on video calls” and this wonderful home office moment from the same media house is going viral right now.

The current situation forces us to exchange at a distance, promotes digitalisation and new forms of work. It remains to be seen whether virtual meetings and cross-location coffee breaks will be cultivated in times when direct encounters are possible again. We are experienced now, know rules and tools – and can build on them.

Picture: zoom.us

More on this topic
Tips for successful video calls
Bernet.blog posts about this challenging spring

Access to the ECCO Global Communications Network is simple. Contact information for a specific geography is available on the agency overview pages accessed here or contact the ECCO Global Communications office in London at +44 7899941744 or via email