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Brains Trust

Even the founder of video startup Shootsta is over Zoom calls – so here’s his advice on 3 ways to deal with them

- April 30, 2020 3 MIN READ
No, this is not how Mike Zooms his team. Photo: AdobeStock
Video calls may be booming right now. But as much as I’m loving seeing what creative bedspread choices people have made, I’m over them.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’ve worked in video production almost all of my career and have built a business off the back of it. I fully understand what an incredibly effective communication tool it is. The COVID-19 crisis has only served to underscore its importance.

But we’re not even a month into Australia’s COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ and already signs of video call fatigue are starting to show. Ask yourself: How enthusiastic are you for your next video call?

I think there are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, employers largely have replaced every single meeting with a video call.

Standups, town halls, daily catch-ups, are now all on Zoom, Google Hangout, and the myriad of other tools out there. Video chats are not suited to all interactions, particularly ones with many people. Yet companies have held astronomically large video conferences to ensure all staff are briefed at once. Stories have emerged of video conferences being used to fire staff and deliver tough management decisions.

Then you have to consider that people are spending their weekends on video calls too, be it with family or friends. If you aren’t living with someone and you are trying to communicate with them, it’s highly likely that it will be a video call. And that someone will use Zoom video editing tools to turn themselves into a potato.

But what’s the alternative, I hear you ask? How can I connect with my staff in a meaningful way without a video call? There are a few answers to this, and they are surprisingly easy workarounds.

 

Just call them

That’s right. It’s that simple. Just give them a call. There’s a reason the average phone call has endured despite the rise of video calls and text messages. Much like the way email has endured despite the rise of Slack.

Phone calls (or audio calls via WhatsApp, Facebook, etc) are still incredibly valuable tools for communication, and they are currently being overlooked.

Compared to a video call, a phone call is a more casual way to communicate and allows the person to focus on the content on the conversation rather than juggle this with how the top half of their body looks on a webcam.

Record a video message rather than beam it over a video conference

As I mentioned, many companies are using video calls to announce all kinds of measures and strategies for staff. This is typically a one-way conversation, the only thing you are gauging by doing it over video call is their immediate reaction to the news.

This can easily be substituted for a pre-recorded video message. It doesn’t have to be long, and can easily be shot using your phone. Staff can watch it in their own time, and it works a treat for workforces that operate across time zones.

We’ve compiled some basic tips on how to create a video on our website, but the key takeaway for this type of communication is to keep it short, but frequent. Film a daily update, it’s what we do at Shootsta and it allows staff to work at their own pace, and still keep up to date with what is happening in the business. This allows your team to watch it in their own time and not spend hours each day on video calls.

Use video calls sparingly and appropriately

There’s a reason why video calls have spiked: They still are a great substitute for real-life interaction given the current predicament.

But if you do intend to fit them into your internal communications strategy, consider the scenarios where they may work best: Shorter calls, with a smaller number of people. This arrangement gives everyone a chance to talk, be heard, and also not be distracted by the number of people on the call.

Video calls can be a good substitute for delicate conversations with team members, but when delivering bad news, use your common sense and put yourself in the other person’s shoes when thinking about how to deliver this message.

There’s no doubt that recent allegations around the security of video call services will make people think twice about using them. But this shouldn’t be an excuse to communicate less.

Communication with clients, staff, and other stakeholders is paramount right now. As a founder, manager, or executive, you should be talking with the team more than ever before and experimenting with ways that they find comfortable to do so.

If you need more of an incentive then consider this: The more you talk, the more you will know when planning the path ahead in what is a very difficult and murky time to be running a business.

* Mike Pritchett is the CEO and founder of Shootsta

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