Monthly Archives :

October 2021

How to Make Your Video Calls and Meetings More Appealing

150 150 Pat Monacelli

By Christina R. Metcalf

Are you tired of video calls yet? There was something new and fun about them when we were all locked down for COVID, but now they’ve lost a lot of their sparkle.

For some of us who work from home, video calls can feel like an unnecessary intrusion where we need to worry about what we look like, what we’re wearing, what our home office looks like, and having to run interference with kids and pets with the possibility of them entering the screen view at any moment. It adds more work and more stress to something that used to be functional communication tool.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can bring back the novelty and enjoyment behind seeing a face and gauging a reaction. You just need to give some thought to how you do it.

Humanizing Your Video Calls
It may seem weird to talk about humanizing something that was supposed to make phone calls more personal to begin with. But the actuality of what happened was akin to the invasive quality of dropping in on someone with only a few minutes warning because you were “in the neighborhood.”

If you want to reverse the feeling of an intrusion, you must do something that couldn’t be accomplished by just a phone call.

Give Warning and Be Clear
If you’re hosting a video call do so with advanced warning and make sure everyone invited knows it’s a video call. Many companies these days use video calling software like Zoom even with cameras are off. So, it’s hard to tell what’s expected from the simple invite.

You want your attendees to know you want to see them or whether you’re just using the call-in Zoom number for convenience, no screens required.

Providing warning allows people (and their surroundings) to look their best and gives them advanced notice to plan for small distractions like barking dogs or cats who want to sit on keyboards.

Don’t use video calls for an unexpected quick compliment, reprimand, or assignment. If you do, you’re introducing unneeded stress on the other end.

Also, before scheduling a video call or meeting, ask yourself if it’s necessary to see one another. If it is, go ahead. If you’re just giving an update, and a face isn’t necessary, forgo the video call.

Use the Tech
If you have several people joining, the chat feature can be incredibly important for keeping the conversation going without creating interruptions. Dutiful multi-taskers can host the call and monitor the questions coming in. But if you want to concentrate on the delivery of the content, place someone in charge of answering and monitoring as you go. That way everyone can remain engaged while you speak.

Whenever possible make time for questions. If you can’t get to them, create an FAQ to be delivered (or posted) later to attendees based on what appears in the chat. This helps give everyone a voice and ensures they feel heard. It also is an incredible development and refinement tool if you are giving the same presentation to multiple groups. By saving the chat and reviewing it later, you can see exactly what points require additional clarification and prepare for your next presentation accordingly.

There are fun filter features where you can change backgrounds or your face (remember the CEO stuck in potato head mode?). Consider allowing your team to use these on occasion for a little comic relief, where appropriate.

Lead with Humanity
If you’re the host or organizer, be human. Loosen up a little on a video call. Be less formal. Host the call from a room that doesn’t look like a board room. Let your audience see more of your personality by what objects are behind you. Log on early to make small talk with those who dial-in ahead of schedule.

If you come across in a formal setting with no noise in the background and a stern look on your face jumping right into whatever you’re discussing, these types of video calls will become something your employees dread. No one wants that.

These are just a few suggestions to help make video calls more tolerable. Remember, just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should. Some topics warrant full face views and others can be quicker and more manageable with just a voice.

Local Business Takes on the Supply Chain Crisis

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

The troubles with the supply chain are daunting. We’re seeing predictions that the holiday shopping season will be marred by empty shelves and disappointed children. While the problems are serious, there are some businesses that will triumph in the face of adversity, and this very well could be the best holiday season for them yet. If you are one of those fortunate businesses, it’s time you market the benefits of shopping with you for the holidays.

The supply chain issues are affecting restaurants, stores, and other merchants who rely on pieces and parts from other vendors and manufacturers from across the country and the world. But local artisans or restaurants that rely on locally grown food may have a significant advantage this holiday season.

Marketing Tips for the Holidays

If you are a business that is removed from the larger supply chain, it may be time to get the word out. While some box stores are expecting empty shelves in certain departments this season, you can be fully stocked and ready to help shoppers. But they won’t know unless you tell them.

1. Let them know you are ready with “the goods.” People don’t know what to expect from supply chain shortages and they don’t fully understand the ripple effect. They may assume that if a large chain store is out of something, so are you. Make sure they know you’re fully stocked with holiday delights.
2. Use this as a chance to highlight the awesomeness of local. Without offending those who are struggling with supply chain issues right now, this is an ideal opportunity to highlight yet another benefit of shopping local.
3. Offer local delivery. If you’re able to cover the cost and man hours, consider offering local delivery or pick-up options. People tend to buy online and from box stores because they don’t have to leave their homes to do it. But this year, even reliable delivery services are having issues now (and we’re way ahead of the holiday shipping rush). Tout the reliability of your deliveries and pickups.
4. Use bags and tags. Consider creating your own stenciled shopping bags or gift tags that mention this gift was made locally and selected by someone who cares. This messaging will be carried around town by your customers and attached to gifts making a big impression on a larger audience.
5. Work with your chamber on a shop local campaign playing up the value and availability of items made locally. As understanding as shoppers may be that everyone is in the same boat, they are tired of hearing COVID as an excuse. If your local business can help make a few holiday dreams come true, it will have a big impression on your future customers. Speaking with the chamber is also a good idea if you’re a business that is struggling with supply chain. Your chamber may know of local businesses that can help you with new stock or items/services to get you through the season.

Finally, if you’re doing a great job marketing and advertising the benefits of shopping with you this season, consider extending your business hours to accommodate last-minute shoppers and those who work in another town during the day. Some potential customers may avoid shopping locally because they figure local businesses close before 5.

Some local businesses may have the advantage this holiday season. If you’re among the fortunate that’s not disrupted by the supply chain, these marketing tips can help you have the best season ever.

Three Solutions to Common Hiring Problems

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Some businesses are saying we are in the midst of a secondary pandemic. But it’s not the kind that requires masks and handwashing. No, this one is harder to control.

There is a dearth of people willing (or able) to work for a multitude of reasons. Employers across the country are posting signs asking for patience with their existing employees because the business is understaffed. In fact, there are hiring managers who are scheduling interviews only to have no one show up! You can’t hire people who don’t even come to an interview.

So what’s a business to do?

Some people blame the business. They believe that the average person wants to work but can’t afford to because of minimal wages and expensive childcare. But the numbers don’t entirely speak to that. 30% of US households are “married without children” in 2020. Single-person households are 23% of the population. So for over half, children aren’t a concern.

So, what can you do to combat the 3 common hiring problems these days? Here are some ideas.

Employment Hiring Challenges Post-COVID
If you brush wages aside as the main reason people don’t show up for interviews or first days for that matter, what are you left with?

Working from Home
It’s the elephant in the room. Why would a worker want to work behind a counter when they can sit at home and work (or sit by the pool or in a coffee shop, etc.). An unparalleled number of businesses created work from home scenarios, and many will stick to those protocols long after COVID. Work at home is no longer a perk. It’s an expectation and it’s hard to compete with that.

Solution: If your business is entirely in-person, it’s not like you’ll never be able to hire again. But it may take some creativity to appeal to workers. Things you might be able to do include flexible shifts (such as working around a child’s schedule) or floating start times within a window of time. The clue here is to get creative with the allowances you can make.

Ghosting Is the Norm
Ghosting has become the norm in relationships. Don’t want to deal with a difficult situation, ignore it and disappear. We’re starting to see this trickle down into our workforce. It’s acceptable to just not show for an interview, first day, drug screen, etc.

Solution: This is difficult to do when you’ve only had minutes of interaction with a candidate. However, people are more likely to ghost when they don’t feel a connection or don’t think of the employer as a person but rather a large corporate structure as in the “they won’t even notice I’m not there” scenario.

In order to avoid being ghosted, you have to do your best to connect with them in the short time you have. Share details about your life. Maybe you’re interviewing them on a special day and “fitting” them in or “clearing” your schedule. Do it respectfully and don’t force the guilt but try and make an impression. You may still get ghosted, but it will be less likely if they see you as a person with needs and feelings.

Reevaluating the Same Old, Same Old
With our forced downtime this past year, we were exposed to a LOT of marketing messaging and frankly many people are just burned out. They may find it hard to believe the claims of some companies.

Another thing people may have done is reevaluating things in their lives that just aren’t working. Some people may have decided that life is too short to work at an unfulfilling job. Others may have seen this pandemic as a kick in the pants from the universe to start their own job. Maybe they saw how being a loyal employee can still result in a lay-off or furlough. Whatever the cause of their employment ennui, people have changed, and you’ll need to too.

Solution: find out what your existing employees want (and what makes them stay with you). Use that in your job marketing. Ask employees for referrals. Reward them for their loyalty and they’ll talk about how great you are to their friends.

Employers are facing an unparalleled time right now, finding it very difficult to recruit good people. For many businesses, it’s difficult to get interest let alone keep someone after their first day. In order to be competitive in the job market, you need to stand out. These tips should help you do that. But you’ll need to go beyond them to think of some creative experiences for new employees. While you’re at it throw a few in for your customers. You never know. A loyal customer may just want to become part of your team.