American Marketing Association CEO Russ Klein on the best ways to fluidly run a video conference
I know video meetings are a new muscle for many—especially those with large numbers of attendees. I wanted to share some observations about my own video conference experiences during this extended work-from-home period and offer some tips as we continue to move forward in this age of digital connection.
1. Choose One Person to Moderate Large Groups and Watch for Digital or Physical Hand-Raising
Otherwise, finding a time to speak can feel like you’re a game show contestant trying to hit the buzzer before someone else jumps in.
2. Avoid Soliloquies
Encourage people who intend to speak longer to pause and invite interim feedback. It’s helpful to break your thoughts into smaller parts: “I have three points I’d like to make. I promise to give you time to provide feedback on each.” Or, “I have a few points to make but I will share just one. If we have time after others have spoken, I’ll share my additional thoughts.”
3. Create an Agenda with the Expectation That Participants Will Have Read Them Prior to the Meeting
Pre-reads can describe what desired decisions are among the goals for the meeting. Include time approximations on the agenda to keep speakers on task. For high-level meetings, the host could also pen a short cover note preparing the meeting participants for what to expect, what’s on the top of their mind and where they are seeking counsel.
4. Avoid Death by PowerPoint
Font should be no smaller than size 30 and try to use images instead of text. Concepts will be much stickier with a great visualized slide instead of forbidding, text-dense lists. Good preparation takes time, but pays off for the meeting attendees.
5. Use the Core Tenets of Improv
Active listening, serving the scene, suspending judgement and disbelief, “yes, and…” feedback and working to make others look brilliant. When someone wants to play devils’ advocate, they should be obliged to accompany their caution or criticism with a solution.
At the AMA, we practice these concepts as part of our meeting etiquette. Challenge every speaker to first recognize and acknowledge the most recent point the prior speaker articulated. It’s a powerful way to encourage active listening and the discussion becomes much richer, allowing for a laddering of ideas—versus a hodgepodge of separate presentations. Instead of waiting silently to make a point, speakers will be more present for the full meeting.
And it can be particularly maddening when someone doesn’t credit the original source, hijacks the idea and re-states in their own words. If you agree with what’s been said, do credit the individual, but spare the audience from your regurgitation of the point. Remember: Blessed are those who having nothing to add, spare us wordy evidence of the fact.
Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash.