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🚀 How to get 30-50% more out of your video calls
The unexpected and easy way to be more productive on video meetings
Let’s start from the bottom line - I’ve found a stupid-simple way to make my video calls 30-50% more productive.
Ready for it? Here’s the playbook:
I use this wallpaper as my virtual background.
How I came up with this
This isn’t specific to marketers per se, but it’s been so effective for me that it’s crazy not to share. So let’s break it down.
Live many others around the world, I take a lot of video calls. And since COVID, my number of daily/weekly video meetings has only increased.
But for all the convenience, there was a downside and I grew frustrated with how little I was able to accomplish during these meetings. More often than not, it seemed like there wasn’t enough time on these calls to get to the important stuff. So I’d end up scheduling a follow-up and hoping for the best.
About a year ago, it got to the point where I felt compelled to make an adjustment. So I spent some time analyzing my video-call productivity and developed a theory. I realized that the productivity and familiarity of the call participants were closely correlated. My most inefficient calls seemed to be with people I didn’t know well, or with people I was meeting for the first time.
Many of these “inefficient” calls followed a simple pattern. The first 5-10 minutes of the call were spent on formal introductions and pleasantries. The next 20-25 minutes were focused on the agenda at hand, but an underlying sense of formality remained throughout.
To be clear, I’m all for formalities and professionalism. I’m also a natural people-person who can make conversation pretty easily. But there are plenty of folks out there who don’t feel as comfortable in these settings. And this impacts their ability to quickly get into a conversational rhythm on an otherwise unnatural video call with a complete stranger staring at them through the screen.
When it comes to these short conversations, it’s clear to me that comfort = efficiency. If I wanted to get more out of these calls, I needed a (really quick) way to create a comfortable, natural setting for everyone involved.
And after a bit of trial end error, I found the magic solution I was looking for in the form of a panoramic shot of an empty Madison Square Garden.
Why (I think) it works so well
The wallpaper background acts as a built-in conversation starter. It’s a picture that catches people off guard (without being offensive) and give them something to comment on and ask about within the first 30 seconds of the call:
“What stadium is that?”
“I love basketball!”
“Are you a Knicks fan?” (I’m not BTW…)
“Are you based in New York”
“Wow. Great picture!”
I get some version of this comment ~80% of the time.
And it seems like this small, natural exchange is just enough to set a more comfortable, open tone for the rest of the conversation. They comment and smike. I crack a joke in response. Everyone wins. Now let’s get down to business.
Try it yourself with MSG or whatever other empty stadium you prefer, and let me know how it goes.