How to improve your video calls: 5 tips from a Google professional

by Kelvin
How to improve your video calls: 5 tips from a Google professional

In our new socially estranged world, video chats are at ease as the primary form of communication for many workgroups or groups of family and friends who want to stay in touch. Whether you use Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts, Meet, or Duo, you’ve probably realized that despite being able to see everyone’s face, it’s not the same as having a face-to-face meeting before the COVID-19 pandemic. Why?

In a recent posting your blog, Google UX researcher Zachary Yorke explored this virtual video dilemma and suggested a solution. Here are five ways to make video conferencing or video meetings feel more natural and help you stay connected.


Think twice before you mute your microphone

Even under the best conditions where all participants have a strong Internet connection, there is always a slight delay from the moment someone speaks to the moment their voice reaches others on the call. This only gets worse when you have slow audio or you make a mistake when activating your previously muted microphone. Even a delay of five decimals of a second is more than double what we are used to in in-person conversations, Yorke wrote on his blog.

“We are used to avoiding talking at the same time and thus minimizing silence between speaking turns,” Yorke wrote. “These delays alter the fundamental mechanics of taking turns in our conversations.”

A solution for smaller group chats is, according to Yorke, not to mute the microphone to provide verbal comments – such as “mmhmm” and “OK” – that demonstrate active listening. In larger meetings, you can try to speak more slowly to avoid unwanted interruptions and give people time to intervene if necessary, Yorke recommended.

Give some visual clues

In our face-to-face conversations and meetings, we often notice the social and visual cues from those who are involved: someone who leans forward and wants to add to the conversation, or someone with a confused expression at one point you mentioned. . But these signals can be more difficult to watch on video, which can cause people to talk less, Yorke wrote.

There is something that can make a difference, added the expert: visual listening cues. For example, when you need to participate, keep your eyes focused on your video conferencing partners instead of looking at your mailbox or in another browser window; and shows that you are listening, nodding and smiling. This will help everyone better read emotions and analyze ideas, Yorke wrote.

“This is especially important when we need more certainty; like when we meet a new team member or hear a complex idea, “Yorke wrote.

Set aside time for trivial conversations

Many face-to-face meetings may begin with a little trivial conversation, in which coworkers share something of their lives and families. This is a good thing: research shows that teams that sometimes share personal information perform better than teams that don’t. When leaders drive this practice, it increases team performance even more. But switching to video conferencing can make it seem like you need to get down to business faster.

Yorke recommends taking advantage of the time at the start of meetings to catch up, and setting a time for a time when you can chat informally with coworkers during coffee breaks or lunch breaks to strengthen ties and morale.

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Chat about how they want to work

When a problem arises in the workplace, remote teams are more likely to blame people instead of analyzing the situation, damaging cohesion and performance, showed a study. To keep everyone aligned, even when work styles are different, you should have open conversations with your teammates about how everyone prefers to work and how they can complement each other, Yorke wrote.

Ensures everyone speaks

Video conferencing is often less dynamic than face-to-face, and fewer people tend to feel comfortable sharing, Yorke wrote. However, one study found that the highest performing groups tend to be made up of people who are more sensitive to emotions and share more equitably, compared to those made up of individuals with a higher IQ.

In your video conferences, you can encourage more balanced conversations, giving each group member the floor to make sure everyone has time to talk, Yorke recommended. You can also remind others to do the same.