Keep on top of your business communications
Working from home during COVID-19 has been a game changer for business communications. Water cooler catch-ups, pre-meeting chatter and coffee planning sessions have been replaced by Zoom meetings, one-to-one video calls, messages and emails. Even as we start returning back to the office, these new practices are likely to stick.
Technology platforms have streamlined workplace communications, but add new forms of stress and dig into our time. Using these tools in the right way, and knowing when to return to basics, can help you get the most out of your day and manage your business effectively.
Meet like a millennial
Zoom fatigue is a real thing, so before you jump to setting up an online meeting consider the purpose and what you need to get out of it. Think like a millennial – if it can be said in an email, send an email. The main reason a meeting is needed is if decisions need to be discussed and multiple people need to provide their expert opinion.
Try to leave at least 20 minutes between each Zoom meeting to give yourself a break and catch up on your notes. Human beings are not built to stare at a screen all day, and many of us will be missing the visual stimuli of face-to-face meetings. Consider setting up your desk so you have the room to look away from your screen and take notes - and try to maintain the best ergonomic set up so you are comfortable and looking after your posture. Also avoid multi-tasking during your Zoom meeting (no tab surfing!), as this will lead to brain exhaustion by the end of the day.
How do I set up my Zoom meeting?
Once you’re ready to plan your meeting, make things easy for the participants. Schedule your meeting in Zoom (or the platform you are using), and then send an invite from your calendar with the Zoom link as the location. It also helps to copy and paste the zoom meeting details into the body of your meeting invite. If you are inviting people from different time zones, use a handy meeting planner conversion chart to make sure the time suits everyone.
Treat a Zoom meeting like a face-to-face meeting and include an agenda in the invite, and circulate actions afterwards. A virtual assistant can sit in on meetings and make notes for you, if you are having problem staying on top of your actions.
Should I record the meetings?
Zoom does have a recording option – make sure you let everyone know in the meeting before you press the record button.
However, searching through a recording can be clunky and using a project management tool like Trello or Monday can work better. Use Trello to set up a ‘Team Meeting Board’ - during the week, team members can add ‘cards’ as items they wish to discuss. Use recurring cards for regular agenda items, such as celebrating a team achievement. Trello ‘powerups’ allow you to have shareable Gant charts and attach Google Drive or Dropbox documents onto a Trello card. Monday offers a similar feature where teams can all add notes at the same time during a meeting to keep an accurate record of the call and action items.
Is chat the new email?
Many businesses are utilising chat platforms like Slack, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams. Chat is all about quick responses and an informal tone, so it can be a real time saver if you need a quick piece of information.
Email should be used when more background information is required and when you need someone to action an item or piece of work. It is much easier for someone to keep a record of their email requests than to go back over a message chat. For example, if you need to know where a file is saved use your chat platform. If you need someone to write a report for you, provide all the instructions and background information in an email so the recipient can save the details and place in their action folder.
When to pick up the phone
Phone calls are still vital for relationship building, and can be an important way to introduce yourself to a new client or check in on an employee. Avoid video calls in these circumstances, as a video can place a different type of pressure on a call and can be a distraction from the main conversation. Do understand that when working from home, not everyone will have a peaceful environment to take a call – leaving a voicemail message can be just as effective in conveying a message and adding a personal touch to your communications.
If you would like help managing your day to day business communications, feel free to contact me and I can work with you to organise your calendar, meetings, emails and calls.