How to ace online meetings

By Ravi Samalad |  05-04-20 | 
 
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About the Author
Ravi Samalad is Assistant Manager - Editoral for Morningstar.in.

The lockdown ensuing COVID-19 outbreak has restricted many of us to stay indoors and changed the way we work and interact with people. Needless to say that technology has come to the rescue for many of us.

The life of financial advisers has also changed. Many of you are using online software tools to keep in touch with clients and colleagues.  Here are some tips on how you can use online meeting software and group chats tools to collaborate and be in touch with your team and clients while working from home.

Meeting with staff

Communication and collaboration are crucial for teamwork. Working remotely can be difficult for most of us. Your team members may want to clear a doubt or seek your feedback related to their work. Since they can’t just walk up to you, the only option they have is to call, chat or send an email. Today, we have many software which help us collaborate better.

Microsoft Teams allows one to chat with colleagues, shares photos, screenshots, files and videos. If you have different departments within your organisation, Teams allows you to create chat groups with members from a particular department, say IT, Finance, HR, sales, etc.

Besides Teams, you have an array other group chat options like Slack, HeySpace, Samepage and Flowdock. Choose one which suits your needs.

Share Agenda

It is best to share an agenda and time of the meeting schedule with your team in advance. This will help your employees to be prepared with their talking points. Microsoft Outlook allows one to start recurring meetings (for instance, every Tuesday, 3 pm).

The Ideal Time

For meetings with your team members, mid-week 10 am to 2 pm are ideal since Mondays are usually catch up days for many. Just make sure the time fits in everyone’s schedule. It should be within the working hour schedule, not too early and not too late in the evening.

Make it interesting

Staying at home can get boring for many of us. People like to walk up to their colleague’s desk to discuss something or clear a doubt or engage in a small talk at office pantry.

You can make WFH fun by encouraging your team to conduct some fun activities like asking them to share their photos while cooking, with kids, pets, craft challenge, virtual dance party, etc. You will find many ideas on how to make WFH interesting online.

Meeting with clients

Most advisers today have the option of communicating with their clients over WhatsApp, phone calls or video chats. Other professional video conferencing options include Cisco Webex, GoToMeeting, Join.me, Google Hangouts Meet, Skype, UberConference, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

Zoom is being increasingly preferred by many firms to conduct remote meetings. The basic version comes free of cost which allows you to interact for 40 minutes with or without video. Participants do not require a zoom account to attend your meetings. They can join the meeting with their desktop, laptop, mobile phones or tablet devices.

The advanced versions of the account come for a cost with benefits like adding more participants with extra time for meetings, recording the meetings on cloud, etc. You can explore other software and choose one which suits your needs.

Screen Sharing

In times like these when the market is volatile, you may want to show some charts or infographics to clients on how markets have recovered from past meltdowns. Many video chatting platforms allow you to share your screen with participants for better comprehension.

After the meeting is over, it is best to send an email to the client encapsulating your discussion or recording so that you both are on the same page. This also helps in avoid any misunderstandings in future.

Space

Your clients can only see the limited background which is viewed through the webcam’s frame of reference. So you need to keep your background clutter-free. Find a quite space in your home, preferably with a blank background wall or. If blank walls seem dull, you can choose a space where clients can see some artwork, bookcase or plants. You need to be visible to your participants so ensure that the room is adequately illuminated or has natural light.

Here are a few tips to get going:

  • Share agenda in advance and be prepared.
  • Join the meeting few minutes in advance to check your video, audio and background set up are up to the mark. Inform your family members about your meeting schedule so that they disturb you or don’t knock on your door when in meeting.
  • To avoid distractions, minimise or log out off from windows/applications which are not necessary until the meeting is over. You may also keep your phone away to avoid getting distracted from social media notifications or phone calls. Keep your phone on silent mode.
  • Make sure your clients are familiar with the software you use for video meetings. Brief them before the meeting.
  • Wear a formal shirt if your video meeting is with a prospect or existing client. This will give you a professional feel. It is best to avoid holiday attire.
  • Start the conversation with an icebreaker.
  • While using video, unstable internet connection can interrupt conversations through a lag at your end. You may consider switching off video unless you are not sharing your screen. Switch off mic when you are not speaking.  This helps in listening to the speaker clearly.
  • Speaking while looking somewhere else could be offensive for the other participant. Making eye contact with the participant helps in having an engaged conversation. Try to look at the web camera as much as possible.

 We hope these tips will help you organise your work more efficiently.

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