The Corona crisis is forcing companies to introduce new processes. Meetings are having to be rescheduled and held using digital means. If you are swapping over to virtual meetings there are a few rules that you should follow to ensure productive video calls with customers, coworkers, and service providers.

It is important to be aware that a virtual meeting is more labor-intensive than a real-world one because more attention must be paid to planning and execution. In addition to the usual rules for meetings, conferences, and workshops you must also consider technical issues – particularly since digital communications present a higher potential for conflict.

  1. Video not telephone
    Wherever technically possible, endeavor to organize a video conference instead of phone conference. The former’s advantage is that participants can see each other, ensuring that they focus more on the issues being discussed, and it is easier to identify who is speaking. If, when taking part in a telephone conference with more than four participants, a conversation or discussion ensues, then be sure to say your name before you make a contribution. This not only makes it easier to keep track of the meeting but also simplifies things for whoever is taking notes.
    Tools for video meetings and conferences include Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, and many others beside.
  2. Mute button
    If you are in telephone or video conference with more than three people, then use the mute button when you are not speaking – it will help prevent background noise and interference. Wherever possible, do not eat or drink. Even if you are at home and no one can see you, talking with your mouth full does not make a good impression.
  3. Take notes
    When holding video and telephone conferences it is crucial that someone takes notes and circulates them afterwards because it is not impossible that someone misses part of the discussion due to a technical problem. Providing an after-conference summary will ensure that everyone is up to speed.
  4. Remember your netiquette
    Interruptions or side comments made by participants during digital meetings can make it very difficult to keep track of who said what, resulting in confusion or even conflict.

Allowing others to finish speaking is thus an even hotter issue than during real-world meetings. To avoid conflicts it is a good idea to confirm what the speaker just said before beginning to outline your opposing viewpoint. For example by saying “I understood that your position is as follows… – am I correct that….” Show you understand that the current situation is not easy for everyone and be sympathetic. Empathy is particularly important when communicating digitally.