Marketing, Technology, Uncategorized

5 Videoconferencing Tips to Conduct Meetings in the Era of COVID-19

Remote meetings can be tricky.

As a public relations and marketing firm in today’s market, and especially in the context of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and social distancing, we at Mecoy Communications know this all too well.

  Just yesterday, we tried to join an important crisis communications conference call that included 11 other people. After issues with 3 separate calls and 2 conference services later, the (understandably) flustered host finally got everyone together on a working line 20 minutes after the meeting was scheduled to start.

Unfortunately, in the limited time left and without the ability to see one another, we struggled to talk over each other and failed to make the most of our time. We ended up needing to reschedule the call (no easy task with 11 participants) as a videoconference.

This story is a dime a dozen, and even more relevant with Stay at Home Orders issues across the U.S. Now, more people than ever before are relying on technology like videoconferencing to keep business running as close to usual as possible.

From dealing with coronavirus to communicating with out-of-state clients and remote workers, videoconferencing is not just an answer to conducting meetings during quarantine, it can also serve as an invaluable tool to promote collaboration and improve productivity.

If you aren’t videoconferencing already, there has never been a more important time to catch up to the competition.

Given the current state of affairs with COVID-19, and the fact that American businesspeople hold approximately 11 million meetings a day, video and web conferencing have never been more relevant. With 52% of US-based employees working from home at least once a week and 89% of companies using multiple videoconferencing platforms, it seems that videoconferencing is an unavoidable part of our new, hyper-connected reality.

During the modern era of “social distancing”, videoconferencing services like Zoom, WebEx and Google Hangouts allow businesses and individuals to effectively conduct in-person virtual meetings that ensure all parties are heard and business continues as usual. They allow businesses and individuals to speak face-to-face with clients and employees, share presentations and files for review in real-time and even facilitate large-scale communications like investor conference calls.

Below are a few tips on setting up and executing a successful videoconferencing meeting:

  1. Choosing the Right Platform: First, choose the right platform for your needs. If you already have purchased an enterprise G-Suite account, then Google Hangouts is a free service that is easy to use. If not, Zoom and WebEx are two of the most popular options, each with a series of tiers to choose from. Review their respective strengths and price points and choose the tier and option that makes sense for your company’s needs. Make sure the platform you choose works with your hardware of choice. For example, if you prefer to use mobile videoconferencing, make sure that the platform you choose also has a functional mobile app. At Mecoy Communications, we use Zoom for its functionality, ease of use and price point.
  2. Know Your Tools: Make absolutely sure that you have a good internet connection to ensure there are no interruptions. Test your microphone input and speaker output prior to beginning the videoconference (most videoconference services will prompt you to do this before beginning, but is a good resource in a pinch). Just as important is knowing how to use the videoconferencing software. This will allow you to avoid serious hiccups, and enable additional functionality including sharing your screen, muting yourself and recording the meeting.
  3. Location, Location, Location: Thinking about your location and being sure the background is what you want to be seen on camera will help viewers focus on what you’re saying and not on the distractions in the background. Make sure to test your lighting and camera angle before joining the meeting with a video preview (easily accessed in settings), and some platforms like Zoom even offer the option to “touch up your appearance” in the same menu (I suggest using it). Zoom and some other videoconferencing services offer virtual backgrounds as well, but make sure to choose something that matches the tenor of the audience and meeting. If you have an unfortunate earnings report to address with concerned investors, a Hawaiian beach with tiki torches is probably not the right background.
  4. Where to Look: Appearance is important both when speaking and listening. If you have the camera (on your laptop or whatever device you choose) at eye level, that will help the audience avoid looking up your nose or seeing a distorted image of you. Keeping your eyes on the screen and ignoring the video of yourself, if it’s visible, will help avoid a shifty-eyed look on the camera that can make you appear untrustworthy.
  5. What to Wear: Dress conservatively and avoid loud ties or intricate patterns that will distract the camera. If you’re wearing a jacket, using the old trick of ensuring your jacket is beneath your derriere avoids it riding up in the shoulders. Avoid wearing large, shiny or noisy jewelry that might cause a distraction. If you have contact lenses, we recommend wearing them instead of glasses to avoid potential glare.

During these trying times, we hope these tips and tricks will help you conduct remote meetings effectively and keep your business running as close to usual as possible.

At Mecoy Communications, we specialize in helping our clients define and execute crisis communications strategy both in-person and virtually. We are an agile, highly responsive network of Los Angeles-based specialists with decades of experience in crisis communications, media relations and public affairs. Our virtual team is ready to help at a moment’s notice — handling everything from developing plans and messaging to directly communicating with media, consumers and stakeholders.

So if you want to learn more about effective communications and how we might be able to help during these challenging times, please visit our website and reach out anytime.


My Story

Diabetes has been a part of my life since my 7th birthday, and those who know me well are familiar with my story:

It’s the weekend before my birthday.

I leap out of bed at 7 A.M. sharp, eager for Saturday morning cartoons and sweet, sugary breakfast cereal.

I turn on the TV (must have been Pokémon), bolt down a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and chug a glass of orange juice.

I throw it up almost immediately.

My parents are concerned. They make me another bowl of what we later learn is pure carbohydrates.

I throw that up too.

This isn’t the first sign that something is off. I lost almost 15 pounds in the past couple weeks alone. I’m using the bathroom constantly, and, despite my usual enthusiasm for early morning cartoons, I have little energy and frequent mood swings.

My parents are smart people. They immediately take me to a local hospital. Four hospitals and countless doctors, nurses and non-diagnoses later, with my parents’ visible concern becoming more apparent by the minute, we finally arrive at the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.

The nurses inject me with an IV. I’m so dehydrated that it takes them 12 tries to find my vein.

The diagnosis comes back quickly: I have Type One Diabetes.

As an almost-7-year-old (back in my younger days, when age was measured by halves and quarters), I believe I know exactly what this means.

I start writing a will. I begin with my bike, and quickly realize I have nothing else to give and no one to leave it to.

(Note to future doctors: telling a kid he has DIE-abetes requires some serious explanation)


I tell this story because I believe it gives some measure of insight into the culture shock that is being diagnosed with diabetes — both for an individual and their family.

I remember my family’s worry and confusion. I remember them trying to explain what diabetes was — and why it happened to me — to friends who visited me in the hospital.

I remember those same friends and classmates asking if hanging out with me would make them sick too.

I imagine getting diabetes is not too different from finding out that you are a parent: Sure, there are books to read and doctors to consult, but the experience is inherently personal. It’s a learning experience that not only tells you who are, but also helps shape the person you become.

And I’ve experienced plenty. Constant diet monitoring and injections included; I am intimately familiar with the tough times everyone associates with diabetes. There is no question that this disease is a daily battle for all involved, and there are no days off.

But realizing your own mortality at an early age has its advantages. I know that tomorrow is never guaranteed, and I have tried to live my life accordingly.

I am a better man for having Type One Diabetes. It has taught me patience, the importance of self-care and most importantly, it has taught me how to overcome adversity.

In my professional life, I started two businesses (so far), launched two podcasts and maintain a personal blog (from which you are currently reading). I worked on the team that won the PRWeek Best in Corporate Branding Award and wrote a thought leadership platform on artificial intelligence for an $11 billion technology company.

As a counselor at Camp Conrad Chinnock, I led a group of diabetic kids 25 miles uphill to summit the highest peak in Southern California.

I ran a marathon, have biked 100 miles twice now for charity and, with your help, I will bike another 100 miles in Death Valley this October.

But the point of this story isn’t me. The point is to help young diabetics like my little sister, Grace, and thousands of kids who don’t know what having diabetes is like. Hopefully they never will.

It’s for that reason that I served as the South Bay Charity Walk Ambassador and a Congressional Advocate for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation funding. With the help and hard work of my family, friends and the diabetic community, we have raised tens of thousands of dollars for diabetes research, providing medical coverage and life-saving technology for thousands of fellow diabetics.

So, if you managed to make it this far, here’s what I ask: Give what you can.

Every little bit helps. Each dollar you donate goes straight to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the leading global organization funding Type One Diabetes research.

With your help, we can build a world where 7-year olds don’t need to learn how to inject themselves, much less think about writing a will.

Together, we can turn Type One into Type None.

Thank you.