Welcome fellow souls to « The Human Family Crash Course Series, » a new project collaborated together by empress2inspire.blog and diosraw0.wordpress.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our fifth topic is focused on «Communication». Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!
Remember a time when zoom calls were new. We used to get so excited about logging on, seeing people and having these work conversations over the internet. And three months later, well, they suck. I think most of my days are taken up by video conferencing. We are still working from home and for me sometimes there are 5-6 video conferencing calls a day back to back. It’s tough so I have recently spent a lot of time figuring out how I can survive these long conference calls.
Here’s how you can stay focused on engaging through these calls. I hope these tips can be helpful for all of you :
- Tip 1 : Make it easy to stay focused
- Tip 2 : Show the other person that you are focused. This will help you stay focused.
- Tip 3 : Be prepared for the challenging calls.
Tip 1 : Make it easy to stay focused
I have realised that focus for me is a very big issue on days when I am tired or when I have too many calls back to back. So I started thinking about why this is happening and I realised that one of the first reasons was there were too many distractions. So obviously for me the first solution was to remove all of these distractions. I put my phone out of sight so that I can’t see that. I removed the clutter from my desk. I cleaned up my digital desktop. This might come handy especially when you are sharing your screen with people, it’s nice to have your desktop clean. Have only tabs which are relevant for the meeting opened in your browser. Position the documents which you are referring to or reading from in the centre so that it seems you are looking at your camera when you are talking. Sometimes when I am talking and I need to look at my notes, I move my notes on the top centre of my screen so that it looks like I am looking at the camera while I am also looking at the notes at the same time. Even if your environment is very quiet, having your earphones on while you are working can help you focus on your work. It can specially come handy when there are more than one people working out of the same home, just a wall apart. Always have a glass of water available with you and mute yourself on calls when you are trying to drink. Also pro-tip have a lid on that glass of water unless you want to spill water on your laptop. Trust me I am speaking from experience. Avoid drinking any carbonated soda or spring water on calls because those bubbles will come back in the form of a burp on the call. If you notice your eyes are getting tired, play around with different steups and brightness on your laptop.
Tip 2 : Show the other person that you are focused. This will help you stay focused.
Eye contact is everything. Look into the camera when you are talking when you are being authoritative and when you want to make a point because that looks like you are looking at the other person. Make sure that your computer is actually lifted because if you are on a laptop. You want to make sure that your eye level is where the camera is and that’s why keeping few books under your laptop may be beneficial. Put a little sticky note at the top of your laptop near your camera with a smiley face so that it kind of reminds you to look at the person when you are looking there. Oftentimes when you watch people on the camera and they don’t really realise that you are watching them, the face changes look like something focused on beyond the screen and this makes a huge difference when it comes to communication. One of the things that we usually forget is that when we are on these calls, our heads are quite close to the cameras and so people can tell when you are looking over or looking at text messages on your phone. In real life you are never that close to people so can get away with a lot more. But when you are online, it is difficult to get away with it. The message it sends is that hey, I am not focusing on you so don’t have to focus on me and hence there is a disconnect. Think of the camera as a magnet and when you do look away and you will, like you are going to look at the clock to see what time it is or you are going to look down on your notes to refer something and that’s okay, just make an effort to keep going back at thee camera and to maintain your presence in the meeting. If you think your eyes and the camera have a magnetic connection then you will keep going back to that. Sometimes telling people why you are looking away is a way of being polite and letting them know that you are still a part of the conversation.
Tip 3 : Be prepared for the challenging calls
We have all been in them. We have all survived to tell the tale. Not all our calls are created equal. Some are really challenging and some are a breeze. It is the way it is because you are interacting with different people on different topics in different scenarios all those kinds of things. It may be the way the person is speaking or maybe their internet connection is consistently bad and so it’s hard to hear them, whatever that is, you know while going in who those challenging counterparts are going to be. If you can anticipate that, that will help you lower your expectations and manage your stress better. Another way is to not forget your listening skills. I have some typical tips which might help like :
– Set an intention. This means think about why you are listening and what the outcome might be for the conversation. What is the purpose of your listening. Are you listening to learn something new or you are listening to find out someone’s instructions, whatever it is, have that in mind.
– Use confirmation language when you are listening. That is especially important in these calls because if you are on mute all the time, then people really do not know that you are listening. So unmute yourself, ask a question, use some reflective language, confirm something that they said just to let them know that you were listening.
– Finally if you are totally distracted and someone is going on and on and on then practice shadowing. Shadowing is when you are listening to somebody and in your head you are repeating every single word they say. It’s like forced focus, you can’t think about anything else because you are using all of your energy to repeat what they said.
So those are three tips on how to stay focused during video conferencing. These endless video conference calls have to be made easy because it seems like we will be doing them for a long while now. Also don’t forget to give yourself breaks. Stand up, walk around the house, drink some water. Also remember that the other person on the call may be going through the same thing. They may also be tired of the calls one after the other. You can help them out by being focused and engaging.
If you have any additional tips on how to stay engaged, please do share in the comments section. We always love to hear from you. If there are any questions you would like us to address, please feel free to ask us and we will try to answer them as best as possible.