Virtual Work Tips

Video Calls

As a result of school, office and stadium closings due to coronavirus containment, we keep finding ourselves in conversations about how to be effective virtually. Perhaps you are having similar discussions.

Because Terawatt’s business model is based on virtual video communication, i.e., groups of people learning and communicating in real time through computers, we spend a lot of time improving our techniques. We’d love to share our best practices.

If you have best practices to share to make the below list better, we’d love to hear from you.

Video Calling Services

We have used all the below services and they work well. Just remember that both sides need to download software to computers or apps to phones.

  1. Google Meet: https://meet.google.com/
  2. Skype: https://www.skype.com/en/
  3. WhatsApp video calls: https://www.whatsapp.com/
  4. Zoom: https://zoom.us/

Tech & Desk Setup

  1. Test the video camera, network connection, and sound before joining a call. Zoom test link and prerequisites here and Google Meet here.
  2. Use a flexible desk lamp or another light source to ensure your face will be well lit. Depending on the light or time of day, a window may be okay if it is close to your face/computer.
  3. We like backdrops of an orderly bookshelf or a blank wall. If you really want to get creative, you can buy a green screen for a background. See examples.
  4. Put away unnecessary distractions, like food, gum, or your phone or iPad. Prepare a cup of water or a mug of coffee or tea to have by your side. A drink can be a non-distracting thing to hold with fidgety hands.
  5. Have a pen and pad of paper ready for notetaking.
  6. Make sure your connection is not interrupted by any other streaming services that may compete with the virtual call (e.g., multi-player video games or Netflix equivalents). Usually, this is an issue with a child at home.

Prepare for Video Call

  1. Position your body so the camera picks up a head-and-shoulders view
  2. Prepare your agenda and materials in advance as well as start and stop time.
  3. Create a list of objectives for the call.
  4. Be prepared to take notes or delegate the task to someone.
  5. Before the call, send an agenda on a shared document, such as Google Docs.
  6. If you use a shared document, you can ask attendees to add items they want to discuss.

Engage on a Video Call

  1. Ask attendees to introduce themselves and where they live or from where they are calling. What is the weather like in that location?
  2. If you have questions for a specific person, say their name first and then ask the question.
  3. Prepare open-ended questions to encourage participation.
  4. Acknowledge, listen to, and respond to questions and comments.
  5. Go around the virtual “room” to ensure everyone has given input.
  6. Assign to-do or follow-up items by name.
  7. Thank everyone for their attendance and participation and ask for any feedback to improve future calls.

These rules of thumb have helped us immensely. Hopefully, they can help you too.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any comments or questions, [email protected]

All of my best,



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