How to stage a good video meeting? Put on a show
T.J. Leonard likes to kick off every Monday morning with an all-hands meeting, to keep his 100-plus employees of the Storyblocks video production assistance company up to date on the latest.
And even when everyone's working at home, the show must go on.
Keeping people focused on in-person meetings is hard enough. How does the CEO do it when distractions at home can include easy texting, e-mail checking, Amazon shopping and the like?
By putting on a production.
He has an MC. He shows video clips. He has team members do skits.
"If I stood in front of the company and delivered a 15 to 30-minute monologue about our vision, we’d have a lot of people tuning out," he says. "The type of content you can take on is more ambitious than what would you do in person."
The new meetings require more preparation than in the past. "To hold their attention virtually requires a crisper agenda," he says. And forget those endless, boring slides. Instead, video is where it's at. "Communicating through motion is a good way to break the monotony," he says.
His message to others: keep it brief, keep it brisk, rely more on multiple presenters. "That’s a trick people use in video editing," he says. "Faster cuts, more camera angles keeps the energy up."
And he encourages team members to make use of the video chat feature on meeting programs, "It’s actually improved overall communication," he says, by keeping the teams in conversation.
If you've missed any of our series on telecommuting and working in the new environment, we invite you to take a look.
Audio: If the boss can't hear you over the noisy gardener and screaming kids, we have a great suggestion: do what pros do. Invest in yourself with a microphone, and adjust your video meeting software preferences accordingly.
Focus: How to get things done with distractions like a refrigerator, kids who should be spending time on schoolwork and a pet that wants to be petted are out there? Jan Schrieber, a graphic designer for Pacific Life insurance, stays on task with written to-do lists and following her computer calendar.
Online hustle. You can't attend seminars, conferences and the like, which have been canceled due to the pandemic, so how to build your brand? By doing it all, from Facebook and Twitter, to LinkedIn, newsletters, e-books. We offer some tips here.
Networking: The beauty of attending a conference is running into new and old contacts in the hallway. Peter Pham, the co-founder of tech incubator Science Inc. is doing just that the old-fashioned way, by picking up the phone and calling people to check in.
Home office solution: You have no room in the home for a private office, the library is closed and Starbuck's is open to take-out orders only. So what are you going to do? If you're tech analyst Jeremiah Owyang, you invest in a $50,000, 22-foot Airstream trailer, pay for it with a $370 monthly 20-year-loan and park it in your backyard.
The eyes have it: Don't forget to look the webcam in the eye. It's the camera you're making eye contact with, not the person on the laptop screen. Larry Becker, the author of the Great on Camera offers that tip and more.
How to master LinkedIn:Marketers David Cancel and Tara Hunt offer tips for getting the most from the business social network.
In other tech news this week
IBM to stop offering facial recognition software as some question how similar technology is used by law enforcement. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said the company will not support any technology that could lead to mass surveillance, racial profiling or "violations of basic human rights and freedoms." Additionally, Amazon said it would stop offering law-enforcement the use of its facial-recognition technology for a year. “We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules," Amazon said in a blog post.
Twitter wants you to actually read a post, before you re-tweet it. Twitter is currently testing a feature that prevents re-tweets without first opening the article on its Android app.
You saw this one coming. One travel company that looks to profit from the coronavirus pandemic is Airbnb. According to Bloomberg, bookings for its rentals in May were way higher than the previous year, as consumers saw these rentals as safer, as fewer people passed through.
This week's Talking Tech podcasts
Tech companies and racism: suggestion - hire people of color!
Apple student scholarship winners this year get a jacket. Last year they got a free trip to San Jose.
How to use tech to combat grief: Maria Quiban Whitesell, the Fox11 co-anchor and author of the new "You Can't Do It Alone: A Widow's Journey through Loss, Grief and Life After," explains.
Follow USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter and LinkedIn.