Due to the global spread of the COVID-19 virus, the business world has embraced virtual work, telecommuting and video conference services like never before. This is great for some industries and then not so great for others. For international business though, this shift has the potential to be game-changing. Here’s a few reasons why:
- Saved Time
- Improved Productivity
- Reduced Costs
- Increased Revenue
Now, there are of course downsides to virtual work. A lack of face time with business partners being chief among them. But if your business has embraced technology as a communications tool, you may already know that videoconferencing is a great way to stay in touch with associates abroad.
So, whether you’re new to the world of videoconferencing or a seasoned veteran, here’s a few tips that will help you survive your next virtual meeting.
Practice Makes Perfect
As with any meeting, you want to be prepared. Go over your notes and practice your presentation on camera with colleagues if you’re preparing for a big meeting. Make sure you have everything organized too. Many videoconferencing services allow you to share content on the call, so get your notes, power point presentation and any other media you might share ready to go. Like a regular meeting, media can help everyone stay focused and follow along.
Dress For The Call
You may be conducting business from home, but you still need to dress as if you’re going to the office. That may mean business-casual for some of you and a suit for others. Make a good judgment call and be sure you consider the cultural standards of your associates on the call.
This goes for your work space too. You wouldn’t invite a business partner to a dirty office or warehouse. For all intents and purposes, your home setup is your office during this time, so make sure the space looks professional. That means making sure you have good lighting, a clutter-free workspace and a simple but interesting backdrop.
Understand Cultural Etiquette
Under normal circumstances, taking time to learn how associates abroad speak, dress and conduct business is one of the best investments you can make. By understanding how someone acts and thinks, you can connect with them on a personal level. Hopefully, you already have that knowledge about your associates, because it will help you have more successful video meetings.
One thing to consider is the cultural norms for greeting your associate. In some cultures, it’s offensive to not greet someone with a handshake or honorary titles. Do some research to find out ways you can show respect to your associate and their culture despite the limitations of a video meeting.
Have An Interpreter
If you, your partner or anyone on the call doesn’t speak English as their native language, it’s best to have someone who can serve as an interpreter. The last thing you want is for something to be miscommunicated or someone not understand a part of the conversation.
Imagine this: You’ve traveled across the world to meet with a potential business partner. There’s mutual respect and trust and you’re ready to make a deal. When you arrive to their office to hash out final details, your associate spends the entire meeting folding laundry. Another is making an omelet. You’d be pretty offended.
The point is this: The same rules for in-person meetings apply to video conference calls. You need to stay focused and give your full attention to the people on the other line. But even that sometimes isn’t enough. One of the downsides of videoconferencing is that maintaining eye contact is difficult. Here’s what you can do to fix that: Place a post-it note or visual cue above your camera to give you a focus point. Looking there is just like looking another person in the eye, and it will make your call that much more personal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we all conduct business and everyone here at the West Virginia Department of Commerce wants you to know that we’re all in this together. If you are concerned about how your business will make it through the next few months, we have developed a resource directory for businesses and communities dealing with the impact of COVID-19. If you have any questions, contact us today.