Ways To Effectively Communicate In Virtual Environments by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC
Communicating using virtual environments, which could be any one of a number of different software solutions or platforms, is not always easy. There are several ways that video calls can limit understanding of the message. However, by implementing a few tips and strategies, leaders can effectively communicate with team members and enhance their virtual communication skills.
Provide Meeting Agendas
To help team members prepare for the meeting, create an agenda. This can be relatively simple and just list the topics, or it can be more details and provide questions or requests for ideas, input, brainstorming, or problem solving.
Agendas also help to keep the meeting focused and moving through the essential items to cover. Following up with a review of any actions to take or decisions made in the meeting bookends the conversation and helps with any clarification needed.
Encourage Communication Between the Team
Look for the most effective solutions to encourage ongoing team communication. This includes communication between team members and between team members and leaders.
An effective team should reach out to each other for support, help, and information. Recreating that opportunity through chat, text, phone calls, or video calls as needed helps build understanding.
Make Meeting Interactive
An online meeting can become a time when the team leader simply shares information with the team members. This leads to less engagement and people tuning out in the meeting.
Formatting the meeting to have breakout rooms for small group discussion, posing questions, encouraging creativity and brainstorming, and having team members report to the group can boost engagement and interaction.
Having cameras on in a virtual meeting helps limit team members’ multitasking during the meeting. It is also a more personal interaction and supports team members to feel part of the group. Having cameras on also provides insight into body language and non-verbal communication of the team. This helps the person speaking to “see” if the information is being received or if there is confusion or questions.
Ask for Feedback
Asking team members for feedback on the video meetings and what could be done more effectively is both inclusive and empowering. This could be done in a follow-up email, through a survey, or by calling or otherwise communicating with a few team members after each meeting.
Check Your System
Taking a few minutes to set up your camera to ensure you appear to be looking directly at the team in the meeting is an important factor. Make sure the lighting is to the front of your screen and not behind you to allow them to see your face rather than being shadowy or dark.
In addition, make sure your microphone provides good quality sound, making it easy for your team to see and hear you with ease throughout the meeting.