Tips for Making Your Video Meetings More Inclusive
The novelty of Zoom, Webex and Microsoft Teams meetings has worn off. Now, virtual meetings are just as routine as in-person meetings used to be. Unfortunately, that means that just like with regular meetings, some people might be interrupted more frequently than others or simply not even get the opportunity to speak at all.
As a manager, it’s up to you to make your video meetings more inclusive. The following tips can help:
- Be mindful of your team members’ schedules. While someone who lives alone might have a relatively flexible schedule, people whose spouses or partners are also working from home or whose kids aren’t in school often have specific times of the day that work better than others for meetings.
- Send out a meeting agenda in advance. This will allow your employees to prepare if they have questions, want to suggest ideas, or present their work to the rest of the team.
- Empower people to share their pronouns on the screen. Apps like Zoom, Slack and Teams allow users to customize their screen names, which offers the perfect opportunity to add their pronouns. As The Muse points out, this helps cultivate a culture that acknowledges you can’t assume a person’s gender or pronouns based on their appearance.
- Make cameras optional. Not everyone is comfortable being on camera. Some people might have a busy household and not have sufficient time to pick up after their kids before a meeting. Others might simply be reluctant to share a peek into their personal lives with work colleagues. So, if someone doesn’t turn on their camera, don’t call them out for it.
- Choose a video program with accessibility features. Video meetings can be challenging for people who are hearing or visually impaired. Skype and Teams offer AI-generated closed captions and there’s software that can be used by people who use screen readers to turn images and text into braille.
- Offer different methods for people to speak up. The University of Nebraska advises encouraging the use of the hand-raised symbol and in-app chat tools so people can ask questions or offer insights.
- Make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak up. According to a survey by Catalyst, 45 percent of female leaders agree that it’s difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings, and 20 percent of all women have recently felt overlooked and ignored by co-workers during video calls. It can also be challenging for other people who regularly feel ignored to speak up during a video call. So, look out for interruptions and make sure that everybody has the chance to speak.
It can also be helpful to ask your team individually for feedback about the meetings to gauge how they experience them. Then you can always adjust your process accordingly.