By James Choles, Academic Manager, Professional Development Centre, British Council in Singapore

13 May 2020 - 16:31

Video meeting tips
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CLEO Singapore

Google Meet, Zoom and Skype video calls are the reality of how meetings are held nowadays. At times, it’s your boss calling for the meeting. At times, you’re calling for the meeting. Regardless of rank, it’s important for the person who called for the meeting to take charge and make sure the agenda is covered.

This may be tough even face-to-face, what more in a virtual settings where you can’t control distractions. So how do you host a video meeting like a boss and ensure it’s a fruitful one and not one that could have been an email? We asked James Choles, Academic Manager of the Professional Development Centre at the British Council in Singapore.

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How do you facilitate a discussion when no one wants to talk/contribute?

There are a few techniques you can use when people aren’t keen to contribute:

  • Call on people by name. You could also give advance warning to colleagues who need a bit more thinking time. Something like: “Akiko, can I get your opinion? Then we’ll hear from Rajesh…”.
  • Put people in pairs or small groups. This works well if your video meeting has a breakout room function.
  • Make it easy to contribute. You could get people to ask questions in the chat box or use voting buttons to make a group decision.

How do you keep everyone attentive when they seem to be doing other things and not listening?

Our attention wanders more easily if others can’t see what we’re doing so make sure that everyone keeps their video camera on. You could also pause every 15 minutes or so for questions or comments. And try to give people a reason to listen.

Ask yourself: What’s in it for them? What are they concerned about, and how can I address these concerns in the meeting?

How do you deal with distracted colleagues without making it seem like you're pulling rank or trying to overstep your boundaries?

People should only attend meetings if they need to be there. And if they need to be there then it’s vital that they contribute. Say that you really value their opinion, or that their involvement is crucial to the success of the project. If they seem distracted, then you can call this out.

Say something like: “You seem a bit distracted. Is there anything I should know about?”

Hopefully, the feedback they give you will help to make future video meetings more effective.

Is It Rude To Leave A Meeting To Take A Call?

Yes. By doing this you’re effectively telling everyone in your meeting that they’re less important than the person calling you. Unless it’s urgent (or your boss!) send a quick text message saying that you’re in a meeting and that you’ll call back when it’s finished.

You've done your homework but everyone has presented similar ideas before it came to your turn. How do you prove you have done your homework instead of just saying "I agree with xxx" or "my idea is similar as xxx"?

You can still agree with someone and then elaborate on how you arrived at your position.

For example: “I agree that we could offer a lower price point. I did a quick competitor analysis last week and it seems that we’re still the most expensive provider.” 

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Video meeting host
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CLEO Singapore

This blog post was originally published on CLEO Singapore and AsiaOne