“Wow, everyone was super engaged on that conference call!” said no one ever. Conference calls all too often feel like this.
But conference calls serve a real need. How do you get people to connect live on a topic that requires a lot of back and forth discussion if they are not in the same location? We can’t just stop them. Email clearly is not meant for conversations. How do we make them more effective?
Wake up, folks! We are living in an era of high-speed internet on our phones and ubiquitous cameras. The answer is video chat. These days we can video chat from basically anywhere that we can take a call. Airports, cars (if you are not driving!), the beach, ANYWHERE.
Things that never happen on a video call:
You call in and ask “who’s here?”, or you don’t even ask.
There is a long pause. Should you speak? Is someone else about to speak?
There is a long pause after something you just said. Oh no, how did that land?
People have “called-in” but are doing something else.
Despite video chat being technologically easy, there is a real uphill battle to getting people to chat over video. Below is a real conversation that took place yesterday between me and a new team I was working with
Me: “Thanks for joining the call! I noticed you dialed in. Would it be possible to join as a team over video?”
Team leader: “Oh, sorry, it’s definitely not possible. We are in a conference room that is not video enabled.”
Me: “Ah, yeah, that makes sense. Does someone in the room have a computer with a webcam? All you have to do is click the link in the invite, and you can put the computer at the end of the table so everyone can see me and I can see them.
Team leader: “Oh, yeah. I guess we can do that.”
Literally 30 seconds later and we were all chatting over video. Wow, that was easy. And it made for a much more effective kickoff.
So when is the next call that you are leading? Consider sending out a video link. Even better if there is no dial in.