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Updated: May 26, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to cause uncertainty to our everyday lives, businesses and individuals are forced to adapt how we stay in touch, engage, and connect with those outside our quarantine spaces. We're not sure about about you, but our days went from multiple in-person meetings to back-to-back video chats. We've not only moved our client and vendor meetings to the virtual world, but have hosted and attended numerous friend and family gatherings over Zoom, Google Hangouts, and FT applications.

As the mandate for shelter-in-place continues to get extended, we have a feeling video calls will become standard operating procedure well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. And as with any meeting, it's important to plan ahead for optimal efficiency and productivity. Recall how you felt walking out of an hour-long meeting only to realize that nothing was accomplished and that now you have one hour less to get your tasks done. It's easy to have this happen on a video call, especially with multiple attendees, so we've put together our list of helpful tips for successful video calls. Please note that we've decided to focus on Zoom, but these tips can be applied to other platforms.

PRE MEETING CHECKLIST - how you setup the meeting will determine its success:

- List of Attendees: the size of the meeting is an important piece to consider when finalizing the format. If you're hosting a small group, freeform chatting might work. If your group exceeds 10 people, having a moderator or muting everyone might be the best option to keep the agenda on track. If you are hosting a large meeting, using the the chat box is a great place for attendees to interact and/or ask questions.

- Agenda: establishing a clear agenda before the meeting will ensure folks come prepared. This will also help attendees prep their questions ahead of time, getting the most out of your meeting.

- Meeting Setup: if you're in Zoom, we strongly recommend selecting the waiting room feature. Having attendees sign in without having the host ready to manage interaction is a disaster waiting to happen.

INVITE - providing clear instructions to all attendees will minimize pre-meeting questions and ensure the meeting starts on time:

- Login: provide clear instructions for your attendees, for both mobile and computer access. This should include the login link and any meeting ID necessary to login.

- Agenda: communicating the format and goals for your meeting will help everything run smoothly. We recommend including a timeline, and attaching any useful docs (workbooks, presentations, etc). If you're looking to field questions, make sure your attendees know there will be time for Q&As, so they come prepared.

GOING LIVE - you've prepped and now it's time to host the meeting: - Screen View: turn on "Gallery View" to see all guests, not just the person talking - Filters: Touch Up My Appearance is a fun setting for all you IG filter lovers. - Background: have fun with you background via the virtual background option. - Content Sharing: if you're planning to share a video/other content, you can share your screen with the group. The share screen icon is located on the toolbar at the bottom of the meeting screen. You'll have the option to share your entire desktop, or just one of the windows you have open.

While video chats have primarily been reserved for conference calls and business operations, the quarantine has forced us all to move our social gatherings online. So grab the tips above and host a virtual happy hour, birthday party, or a dance party with your friends. Looking to take the call from corporate to party time? We've got more tips!

- Theme: specialty quarantini cocktails? Favorite 80s pop stars? The list is endless and we're sure your family+friends are looking for something to break-up the mundane of the everyday quarantine.

- Dress Code: encourage guests to get dressed up! We don't know about you, but our sweatpants have been getting quite the workout these days and the sequins is collecting dust. We'll take any excuse to get dressed up!

- Crowd Participation: like with any party, a host's job is to facilitate mingling/guest interactions and this is no different. Invite the guests to share content, whether a video, song, or even a live performance.

During this crazy time, our team has been working diligently to reschedule events as well as move some online. If you're concerned about your event, please don't hesitate to reach out. And if you're looking to shift your future events to a virtual platform, we're here to help. We're working with our clients to ensure agendas reflect virtual gatherings, the technology piece is able to accommodate your list of attendees, and the experience is as special as if everyone was in one room.

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