Updated: Mar 26, 2020
Many of us know the basics of online meetings. We’ve all heard tips such as turn on your video to improve communication or striped shirts don’t transmit well on camera. However, it’s another thing all together to hold an interactive online Scrum event or a collaboration session, such as product backlog refinement .
Below are a few advanced tips for online collaboration that might help in your in your next event:
1- Turn on “Attention Tracking” in the room. Zoom has an underutilized feature that is able to tell the presenter if other attendees no longer have Zoom in focus. This is not a form of spying. In fact, I let my attendees know that this feature is on. I use it to guide them in case they get lost during the presentation or breakouts. It also allows me to guide them on whether they are in the correct screen or not. Sometimes Zoom does its job a little too well and attendees can’t tell if they are looking at my screen share or at the collaboration board. By turning on attention tracking, I can tell them that they are viewing my Zoom share instead. I also use it to self-assess the interest level in a topic so that I know it might be a good time to move on or to take a break.
2- Turn on “Virtual Background”. As much as 60% of communication is non-verbal and supplemented by body language therefore, video is king. Zoom has a fun background replacement option that does not require a green screen. This adds privacy to those that might be shy about sharing video because of what you may see behind them in their room. So, I turn on mine, add an interesting background like a picture of my favorite beach, and I encourage others to do the same.
3- Pencils down, laptops up: You’re welcome to get a group of people in a conference room to attend a meeting, but make sure that each person dials in separately into the online meeting so that all participants are on equal footing during the session. Everyone must have their own laptop at any remote collaboration session. Sharing a teleconference room with multiple attendees in a room tends to confuse those that are single remote participants. Things like not knowing who is speaking, especially if it’s the first time meeting them, or physically pointing at things can frustrate remote attendees.
4- Have one source of audio unit. You should mute neighboring attendees so that there is only one source of audio. Don’t confuse this with Point 3 above. This is about restricting loud feedback that builds up when two microphones are on or the audio from one laptop feeds into the other’s microphone.
5- Use a real-time whiteboard collaboration tool. Digital whiteboard collaboration has come a long way. I prefer to use Miro because it gives me an infinite board in real-time with everybody’s cursor location. This allows me to keep track and see what they are working on as a team during the session. It also treats post-its almost as intuitive as the real thing. Be sure to prepare your whiteboard ahead of time with all the assets that you'll need. For example, if you're holding a retrospective, be sure to have a retrospective template ready to go.
These are just a few of the many features and tricks of the trade for effective online collaboration. What are some of your personal favorite ones?