Pandora’s box has been opened, and companies won’t be able to get all the meeting apps and tools back under lock and key post-COVID-19. But, as the myth goes, hope remains. Audiovisual technologies and meeting spaces are more flexible than ever and have the capabilities to put the user’s choice first.
Sara Abrons of The rAVe Agency recently sat down with Michael Judeh of Convene and Lindsay Hamilton “Ham” Gordon of WeWork for an AVIXA roundtable discussion on how to improve meetings in the wake of COVID-19.
Here are the must-ask, time-saving questions to answer before clicking send on another meeting invite.
The What: Could this meeting be an email?
Yes, this question isn’t groundbreaking, but clichés are clichés for a reason. This question bears repeating, especially now when most of humanity is hungry for that human connection.
Ask yourself, do you have a clear agenda and anticipate actionable next steps? If you can’t put your need in words yet, then you aren’t ready to call others into the conversation. Respect others’ time and first clarify whether you need to inform (which can be done in writing) or collaborate (which is better in real time). A meeting can be quite valuable. As Gordon succinctly points out, “Emails cannot screen share.”
Defining the meeting’s purpose is key to its value. Judeh advises, “Never walk into a meeting without having a discernible direction and an action item—and someone should always be taking notes.”
The Where: Is the space dressing you up or down?
This isn’t just about mood lighting – though if you want the official word on how to look your best, check out AVIXA’s standard on videoconferencing lighting. Gordon explains, “A conference space is kind of a visual story about your culture and your team’s. That is what we are trying to deliver upon—for you to show up and have a space that kind of buttons you up professionally and allows you to put your best foot forward.” Your room is your new suit when none of us can tell if you are wearing board shorts or sweatpants beneath the desk.
Distance working has become normalized and is no longer the slapdash solution it was at the beginning of 2020. Those cluttered backgrounds and ambient noises aren’t quite as acceptable anymore, since we all have had time to adapt. Gordon points out, “As desktop conferencing becomes ubiquitous, ultimately there’s a graduated element to that—a beautiful conference room and being able to master it with your own tool set.” This will be even more true when half the workforce returns to the professional office and the other half is still crammed at the desk in their apartment.
The How: Do you have the right tools to execute your agenda?
This question will become more pertinent when we begin to slowly trickle back to the office. We’ve all learned new tools for collaboration, with or without the blessing of the IT department. You cannot expect that a conference room with pre-COVID-19 hardware will automatically be ready to adapt to your expanded tool belt of software. Make sure to check first, before your invitees arrive, that the tools are as seamless in the conference space as they were on your laptop. Discover whether the space has the technological agility you need. If you do this in advance, you will have time to contact your IT and AV departments for a solution.
It's key to have these problem-solving conversations before a meeting. When we do return to the office, it will not be like it was. Everyone will be socially spaced across the room, not huddled around one monitor, or sharing a mouse or tablet. Bring your own device is at a whole new level while swapping drafts of a project via email just won’t cut it if we want to stay productive.
Judeh fully embraces this new agility: “Giving people the option to work on the tools they want to use that make sense for their workflow, but then having the rooms be an extension of that and being a seamless integration so you can leverage great microphones, built in cameras, and speakers is really where the next step of the evolution is, versus fixed architectures, clunky control pads in a room, and forcing people to work a certain way.”
Using the Best of Both
COVID-19 has been unexpected and changed how we do most things in the corporate world. Instead of seeing this as a barrier to innovation, it can be an opportunity. A meeting is still a meeting, with agendas, action items, and shared spaces, but COVID-19 has given many of us the opportunity to use new tools and try new communication methods. Using the best of the old and the best of the new normal can allow our teams to be more collaborative, productive, and creative when we meet, whether that’s online, in person, or a bit of both.
Watch the full episode: AVIXA Roundtables | What's Next for Corporate Meeting Culture
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