It is time to say goodbye to the written company memo at your small business? One CEO thinks so. When Julie Sweet became CEO of Accenture’s North American business last year, she banned corporate memos and replaced them with live-streamed conversations and even pre-taped video messages in order to be “more authentic and less scripted,” she told CNBC. The move, which Sweet describes as one of the best leadership decisions she has ever made, has improved communication with the firm’s 50,000 employees and she recommends other companies do it, even though transforming a corporate culture can be difficult.
Video meeting tools, whether video conferencing or webcasts, which can enable real-time feedback through social media applications, live Q&A, online polling and more, increasingly are being used by small and large companies to communicate with employees as well as customers. While reducing travel expenses is a key driver, the use of a video meeting to convey a message also helps to improve transparency. Often for the sake of brevity email and text messages don’t include the important underlying information that is critical to fully understand a situation. A speaker can better communicate some of these finer points.
Also seeing someone is far more engaging than hearing someone address a group in an audio conference, not to mention listeners miss out on the nonverbal cues, which tell a lot. Research shows, too, that employees don’t give their undivided attention during calls. A study by West Unified Communications Services of over 500 full-time employees found that 82% of participants work on unrelated items while on a mobile conference call. Some even shop (21%) and play video games (25%). Roughly two-thirds do other work.
Connect with remote workers
As the number of remote workers rises, video meeting tools are enabling employees who work at home, on the road, at a co-working space or even at a customer site to feel more engaged and connected with each other and the company. Companies also are using webcasting and video conferences to conduct training classes for remote employees; and video conferencing for interviewing is on the rise. A study of 270 small businesses Plantronics conducted earlier this year through the Corporate Executive Board Small Business Practice found that over one fourth now are conducting interviews over video conferencing.( A few years ago, I hired someone from Houston for our Plantronics Small & Medium Business team in California over a Skype video call.)
Ensure technology works
In Plantronics The Better Meetings Blueprint, we advise that there are several technology considerations for today’s web-enabled meetings. They include:
Mobility: Among your small business team, the desire to use preferred personal mobile devices and apps known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own App (BYOA) is growing. Support your mobile users with a mobile strategy that outlines which mobile devices you support, what apps are needed for virtual meetings and how to provision security – set access privileges for company data, for example – for each supported device.
Sound: Mobile users can’t be certain about the noise in their environment; yet good sound quality is paramount to a meeting, especially when all users are not present in one room. Noise-canceling headsets can enable audio clarity among mobile users. Poor acoustics in a conference room also can be offset by noise-canceling speakerphones.
Network capacity: Without a reliable connection, especially high-speed bandwidth to accommodate HD streaming video and audio, you can’t be certain about the success of your video meeting. Ensure that your connection is reliable with minimal latency to maximize uptime across all video endpoints, conference bridges and firewalls.
Send the right message
Even if there are no technology glitches, you still want make sure that your call achieves the results you want with the right presentation. Here are a few tips to prepare and conduct your video meeting:
- Clear the clutter: Don’t distract participants with a cluttered workspace or other distractions or movement in the background.
- Check lighting: Be sure the area is well lit and the camera angle is good on you or whatever else you are demonstrating or sharing.
- Stay focused: You are on camera; wait till the call ends to check emails on your smartphone.
- Dress appropriately: How you look is a focal point of your meeting. Dress as if you were meeting in person.
When you are getting down to business, video meeting tools can help boost communication.