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5 ways to make video meetings a little less tricky, from Google



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Getty / FilippoBacci

In our new world of social distance, video chat is the primary form of communication for many workplaces and groups of family and friends who want to keep in touch. Whether you use Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or Google Hangouts, Meet or Duo you've probably noticed that even though you can see everyone's face, it's still not quite the same as a pre- coronavirus pandemic personal meeting. But why?

In a recent blog post, Google UX researcher Zachary Yorke investigated this virtual video dilemma and suggested a solution. Here are five ways to make video meetings more natural and help you stay connected.

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Think twice before muting your microphone

Even under the best conditions, when everyone has a strong internet connection, there is still always a very small delay from the time someone talks until the moment their voice reaches the others during the conversation. This only gets worse when someone has laggy audio or clumsily presses the mute button. Even a five-tenth of a second delay is more than double what we're used to in personal conversations, Yorke wrote in the post.

"We are baked in to avoid talking at the same time, while minimizing the silence between turns," Yorke wrote. "These delays mess with the fundamental mechanisms that reverse our conversations."

As a solution, for chats with smaller groups, Yorke recommends to stay unmuted to provide bits of verbal feedback (such as "mmhmm" and "OK") to show active listening. In larger meetings, try speaking slower to avoid accidental interruptions and give people time to intervene if necessary, Yorke recommended.


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Also provide some visual cues

In our personal conversations and meetings, we often pick up social and visual cues: someone who leans forward and may want to add something to the conversation, or someone with a confused expression at a point that you made. But these cues can be more difficult to see on video, which can cause people to speak less, Yorke wrote.

One thing can make a difference, he added: visual listening directions. For example, if you need to join, keep your eyes on your fellow video chat participants, instead of your inbox or other browser tab, and show yourself listening by nodding and smiling. This will help everyone read emotions better and analyze ideas, Yorke wrote.

"This is especially important when we need more security, such as when we meet a new team member or listen to a complex idea," Yorke wrote.

Make Some Time for Personal Conversation

Many face-to-face meetings can begin with casual conversation, in which colleagues share small pieces of their lives and families. This is a good thing: research shows that teams that sometimes share personal information outperform teams that don't. When leaders model this, it often improves team performance even more. But switching to video conferencing can sometimes feel like you need to get started faster.

Yorke recommends taking some time at the beginning of meetings to catch up and free up time for casual video chatting with colleagues over a coffee or lunch break to build connections and morale.

Chat about how you want to work

If there is a problem in the workplace it is more likely that remote teams Blaming individuals instead of analyzing the situation, which harmed cohesion and performance, a study found. To keep everyone on the same page, even if the working styles are different, you should have open conversations with your new remote teammates about how everyone prefers to work and how to complement each other, Yorke wrote.

Use the & # 39; Talking Stick '

Video conferencing is often less dynamic than in-person conferences, and fewer people feel comfortable sharing, Yorke wrote. But better-performing groups usually consist of people who are more sensitive to emotional and more equal sharing, as opposed to individuals with higher IQs, a study found.

During your video conferences, you can encourage more balanced conversations by using the proverbial & # 39; talking stick & # 39; pass it on to each member of the group to make sure everyone has time to speak, Yorke recommended. You can also remind others to do the same.

For more help with your video chats, see tips for using Zoom like a pro how to look great and sound online with your webcam and can make a webcam by phone .


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