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This is Different

The outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus means that life has been turned upside down for practically everyone.  While group gatherings and “social distancing” are the new normal, we still have businesses to run, homes to manage, and general life to lead.  Getting through the next few weeks (months?) will require us to think and act differently.

This applies within our Two Twelve network too!  Historically, we’ve been big promoters of always hosting a weekly meeting.  Cancellations are to be avoided at all times. And yet, in today’s environment, it’s hard to find a place where our teams can even gather!   Enter the need to “think and act differently” within Two Twelve.

As I write this, we’re preparing new tools that will enable our many Two Twelve teams to operate under “virtual meetings” for the next few weeks.   At the foundation of this effort is creating access to online video conferencing that teams can leverage to hold their standard meetings.  For those who don’t have access to video cameras, our technology will offer dial-in access too.  This is a big shift to enable our teams to remain active when normal interaction is not possible.

Video conferencing CAN be great to help our teams flourish in these days ahead.   But if you’ve never really used video conferencing before, what can you reasonably expect and how can you help make the time spent be as fruitful as possible?   Below are some recommendations and helpful tips to keep you and your Two Twelve team focused on having a great video conference meeting.

Preparation for the Meeting

This may sound obvious, but preparing for an online meeting includes things that you may not generally think of when compared to preparation for your “normal” weekly gathering.

  • Make sure you have software installed ahead of time.   
    The day before your meeting, take a few minutes and make sure you’ve got the proper software installed, it loads, and works.   Test your microphone and video camera ahead of time.  Be sure that your technology works!   If your video fails, be prepared to dial into the conference at a minimum.
  • Get your ‘space’ ready for the conference.
    Do you normally have a messy desk?   Is that background area (behind you) covered in old calendars, artwork, or other items that will be distracting?  Consider relocating or cleaning up so that your environment looks good.
  • Lighting — it’s an important detail.
    Dark rooms are great for watching movies.  They’re not good for capturing video.   Use the video preview functions when you test the software to be sure that your lighting is sufficient and you look good!
  • Look your best 
    When you show up for a video conference, it truly matters!   If you look like you just rolled out of bed, then confidence and credibility goes down.  Make every effort to be truly ready to meet everyone.
  • Eliminate the distractions.
    Make sure the dogs are out of the room.  Hang a sign on the door so that teenagers or significant other doesn’t barge into the room.  Take a restroom break and have coffee/water with you in advance.  But please… whatever you do… don’t eat during a video conference!   That bagel and cream cheese may sound good, but it’s not enjoyable to watch someone scarf down their breakfast.

Best Behaviors During a Meeting

There are things you can do to help ensure that an online meeting runs smoothly and successfully.

  • Arrive Early
    Being early helps make sure you can adjust your settings, update lighting, check volume, etc. on your settings.  Give yourself an extra 5 minutes and it really can make a big difference, especially if you’re forced to login again or troubleshoot any problems.
  • Close Other Programs
    We’re used to setting our cell phones in silent mode. But now, shut down email, instant messaging, Slack, Facebook, and other tools so that you’re NOT tempted to use these during the meeting!  When your alerts go off for your email arrivals, it’s painfully distracting to others!
  • Mute is Your Friend
    As much as we’d like to think we’ve closed down programs and eliminated distractions, chances are that a neighbor may decide to turn on their leaf blower, or a car alarm starts going off, etc.   Even more common is a raging fit of sneezes!   Muting yourself until you’re ready to speak is helpful!
  • Try to Avoid Typing
    If you can survive with a paper and pen, you’ll avoid the ‘clickety-clack’ sounds that most keyboards can make during a video conference.   This is a tremendous distraction for other team members!
  • Taking Turns
    In a regular network meeting, we sit at a table and go “left” or “right” around the room to talk.   In the virtual meeting, there’s no way to appropriately go “in-order” so the team chairman needs to call out each speaker when it’s their turn.  So, it’s good practice to wait to be called on — it’s a much better experience!
  • Reporting Referrals/Sharing Numbers
    Keeping track of referrals and closed business is second nature at Two Twelve.  It’s easy when we’re meeting in person.  Be prepared to email your Team Members any referrals and be sure to CC all emails to your Team Administrator to record it all.

The Gold is in the Follow Up

We’ve known for a long time that following up is important in business.  Follow some of these steps to ensure you’re leveraging everything available to you!

  • Be Intentional 
    You may have to give more effort to reach out and make phone calls for business contacts.   Don’t let it feel like ‘cold calling’!   Reach out and talk with members and guests.   Who on your team have you NOT scheduled a BizChat with?  With whom have you not spoken in months?   Reach out there first!

 

One more thing….

Inviting Guests is Easy. And Hard.

While we can always invite folks to participate in our meetings, sometimes they are more likely to say “yes” if it’s easy to bow out.  Unfortunately, there could be make reasons they miss or struggle to attend the meeting.   We’re doing everything we can to provide technology that’s simple, direct, and clear for users to take advantage of.

Recommendation — When your GC sets up your meeting, it should be in a manner that can be quickly, and EASILY shared with others.  Take advantage of this!  Welcome folks to use this same checklist to prepare themselves for the meeting and understand precisely what to expect.    The Invitation will look something like this:

Need Help?

If you’re utterly lost and confused about video conferencing for Two Twelve, give us a shout and we’ll be glad to assist you!

 

 

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