Although there are still occasions when business travel is needed, and indeed a welcome chance to see the world, there are good reasons to cut back on it. For one thing, taking yourself and a few employees to an overseas location isn’t going to be cheap; for another, it chafes badly with the demand for businesses to be green.
Not only are the above good reasons to hold back on the overseas trips; the additional truth is that there is a perfectly viable alternative to flying, and it is more in vogue today than it has been for some time. Smart business owners are looking more and more to teleconferencing; a vital part of keeping a business ticking over in the present situation. It’s also one that should be retained in future, as long as you stick to some key dos and don’ts.
DO: Make sure you enunciate clearly
Using teleconferencing programs for the first time is going to be awkward; that’s just an unavoidable truth, so let’s get it out of the way. When communicating across the waves with someone you might never have spoken before, it is probably best to over-enunciate what you are saying and, to begin with, be excessively formal. Identify yourself by name before speaking, and pause between sentences to ensure you are understood. In time – even during the first call – you’ll find a gentler rhythm, but you can’t be too careful.
DON’T: Allow clutter of any kind
In an in-person meeting, it’s not uncommon for pieces of paper to start to pile up, cups of coffee to gather on the table, and even the occasional sidebar to introduce new people. When teleconferencing, it’s essential to keep a clear space – clutter in the form of extraneous paperwork or receptacles will distract your interlocutors and give an unprofessional vibe. It’s also vital to shut out external distractions; mute your email and put up a Do Not Disturb sign. Remember that the people you are speaking to can’t see what you can see; noises off will be concerning to them.
DO: Test the software repeatedly before using it
There are many business owners who make a point of not working with new technology; they trust what they have used before, and they will make do with the same. You can’t really maintain that approach – this tech is here to stay, so it’s best to get used to it and work at understanding it. Test the software by holding video calls with someone in the next room, then on the next floor, then in another building. Get rid of all bugs, refer to https://setapp.com/how-to/how-to-view-and-kill-processes-on-mac to shut down programs that interfere with the call, and get your best IT professionals involved in ironing out every wrinkle.
DON’T: Use other devices during a teleconference
There are many reasons not to use your phone during a conference, as seen at https://money.howstuffworks.com/business-communications/teleconferencing-etiquette2.htm. Firstly, it’s rude – your guests should have your full attention. Additionally, devices can interfere with the signal and disrupt the teleconference. Furthermore, your phone may ring during the call, which just looks unprofessional. If you must “multi-task”, at least delegate someone not involved in the call to handle phone calls and messages, with a stipulation to only seek you out in a genuine emergency. Specify what constitutes an emergency beforehand.
We’ll all get a lot more used to teleconferencing as time goes on, so it’s worth getting the hang of things. Expect some teething troubles, but know that you’ll get there before too long.
HR Future Staff Writer.