Many collaborative professionals are utilizing Zoom, Web EX or other video platforms to conduct collaborative meetings. Guidelines that comprise good meeting protocols, including preparedness, paying attention, and proper flow of meeting all apply to the success of Collaborative video meetings and contribute to a productive outcome.
The goals of any collaborative meeting include maintaining respect for all attendees, efficiency, targeted communication, sharing information, asking and answering clarifying questions, identifying who needs to do what, and making and recording decisions are essential to a positive collaborative meeting experience. After facilitating numerous online collaborative meetings here are a few tips that I have found helpful:
Prior to the meeting:
- If clients are unsure of using a video platform, have the attorney or neutral, practice with clients so they feel more comfortable.
- Professional team members are well served getting on the call at least 15 minutes early to check sound and become familiarized with any feature participants may need to use during the meeting including screen share of agenda, financial documents, or parenting plan. Practice using the breakout room feature just in case it is needed. https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206476093-Getting-Started-with-Breakout-Rooms
- Check your environment. Make sure there is nothing distracting behind each member. Piled up dishes or clothes are off-putting. Choose a plain wall with a potted plant or utilize a video background that is business appropriate. A cosplay or PeeWee’s Playhouse background just won’t cut it. https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/210707503-Virtual-Background
- Business appropriate high-resolution backgrounds can be found at:
- Check what your webcam is seeing. Have good lighting in front of you on your face so you can be seen clearly by the other attendees. Adjust your camera to be at around eye level if possible - especially take note of the angle of your laptop screen if using the built-in camera. Know how to mute your microphone or phone when not talking. Invest in a selfie or ring light so that participants can see you clearly.
- Attend meeting in a quiet, distraction free area. Put up your pets up and change the date of lawn care service so that participants are not hearing leaf blowers or see cats prowling over keyboards. Silence your cellphones, and notification signals. Silence applications running on your desktop and smartphone are distracting and make meeting attendees feel disrespected and undervalued.
- Check your appearance. Be sure that you are wearing appropriate attire. Be “laced up from the waist up.” All participants can Zoom in or pin your picture.
- Keep the parties in the video “waiting room” until both are online. Allow them to enter together. The perception of neutrality is important.
During the meeting:
- Lock meeting once all participants are present.
- Create a welcoming environment. Begin meeting with brief and thoughtful greeting.
- Turn on gallery view so that you can see all participants at the same time.
- Remember to look into the camera when talking instead of looking at yourself.
If you’re looking at yourself on the screen while you’re talking, it will seem like your attention is elsewhere. Direct eye contact into the camera while speaking gives attendees the impression that you are looking at them rather than off to the side.
- Do not allow participants to turn off their camera as it produces a black screen unless it is a last resort. It is difficult to manage a meeting, listen properly, or communicate effectively if someone is not utilizing video.
- Do not multitask during the meeting. It is distracting and rude.
- When sharing a document onscreen, place the image on your screen close to your webcam, this will help your eyes align with the camera. : https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362153-How-Do-I-Share-My-Screen-
- Avoid talking over other meeting participants. Mute your microphone when others are talking or presenting material.
- If you must get up from the meeting. Shift your chair to the left or right and scoot back. If you don’t, participants will get an unexpected shot of another’s anatomy (chest or zipper area of the someone’s pants).
- Refrain from engaging in personal behavior. Most folks are grossed out by nose picking, ear cleaning, etc…. I can’t believe I am having to add this but like the warning on a hair dryer, the struggle is real.
- If you’re the host, wait until everyone else has left the meeting before ending the meeting, so attendees can leave without the anxiety of who leaves meeting first. The Neutral mental health professional can also give a 3-minute warning to participants that meeting will end.
- Follow up with the parties and procure feedback regarding meeting so that collaborative team can stay on top of concerns and tweak future meetings if needed.