If your team is geographically distributed, fully or partially, you probably experience communication challenges. On thing you can do is switch to video for team meetings: experience has shown that this dramatically improves interpersonal connections.
But persuading some team members to switch on their camera can be challenging.
The process below is tried-and-tested. It also introduces some core principles for persuading anyone to do anything.
1. Make sure you have access to a quality video-conferencing system
Zoom is great: it’s easy to use and enables high-quality calls in an egalitarian, everyone’s-the-same-size format. There are even breakout rooms. In contrast, some tools being used in corporate environments make video calling seem like a real chore. Get the good stuff.
Also, quietly make sure your reluctant team member has the essential kit: a camera, decent broadband, and a quiet place to call from. If not, fix that.
2. Book a one-on-one call with the reluctant team member
In the invitation, explain that you want to improve communication within the team and would like their help (here you’ll be exploiting the Ben Franklin Effect.)
Offer two technological options for that call: the audio-only one you know they are comfortable with, and the video conference system. Ask them to let you know which they’d prefer to start with.
3. Make sure you understand why video matters
This post from Wired magazine, for example, explains that using video:
- Keeps people focussed
- Breaks down cultural barriers
- Shortens meetings
- Improves team cohesion.
If you are a book reader, I suggest Penny Pullan’s Virtual Leadership.
And don’t forget that YouTube favourite, A Conference Call In Real Life.
4. On that call: Listen and ask open questions
Begin your scheduled call by giving your team member “a good listening to”. Ask open questions about how they think communication is going within the team. Remember, by accepting the appointment they’ve agreed to help you. Stick with that frame.
Use Clean Language questions to direct their attention first to what they think is going well. As you listen, notice what’s important to them about the team, about the work, and about their working environment.
Next, move on to the challenges. Direct their attention towards what’s not working in order to deepen their desire for change. Make a list of the problems.
Keep listening. When you’re telling, you’re not selling!
5. Ask for their help to fix the problems
Get their agreement-in-principle before continuing.
6. Make your case for using video – in their terms
You now know what problems your reluctant player sees in the team’s communication. You know what’s important to them. And you have their agreement in principle to help you.
Ask, “If I could show you one simple thing you can do which is likely to make many of those problems go away, would you be willing to give it a try?” Then make your case for them switching on the video camera.
Dig into your standard persuasion toolkit here.
For example, use Cialdini’s principles:
Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch has another way of looking at persuasion that works extremely well.
6. Try it out with them right now
If you’re not already using video for the call, make the switch. Check that everything actually works. Reassure them about things like lighting and backgrounds. If they’re calling from home, let them know that best practice these days is not to create a pretend corporate environment, but to build trust through authenticity. (Within reason. Remember this?)
Secure their agreement to try video on the next team call.
7. Try it out again within a day or two – this time with the team
Don’t let them forget their commitment! Act quickly.
8. Be persistent
The person may need reminders and reassurance. Be like bamboo.
9. Check in
After a few video meetings, ask how they think it’s going for the team. Make a note of their comments and, with their agreement, perhaps use them to persuade others.