At FPA, we leverage a number of different online meeting platforms including Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and Zoom for our online and video conferencing. There are pluses and minuses to each. As we've moved to a remote workforce, the need for communicating frequently through online meetings and online training/instruction has increased dramatically. It's now more important than ever to not only leverage these tools, but to be well prepared with the best "online etiquette" to make our online meetings as effective and efficient as possible.
One of the downfalls of online meetings is they simply end up being less efficient. All too often, there's wasted time at the start of every meeting. Waiting for people to join. Waiting for people to get their video setup. There's noise in the background. All sorts of little things that turn what you had hoped to be a great meeting into something significantly less.
Here's a quick rundown of some of the more important standards hosts and attendees should know before attending any online meeting...
1. Show Up On Time
If the meeting starts at 1:00, connect up a few minutes early to ensure all of your settings are right and you're not making any of the other attendees wait for you.
2. Show Your Video
Use the built-in feature to share your video. This helps build relationships and provides a way to share non-verbal communication cues. If you're staff don't have webcams at home, invest in getting them some. Webcams are imperative in this "new normal."
3. Identify Yourself
Make sure your name is displayed in the participant panel so the other attendees know who you are (you can use the "Rename" command once you're connected if need be). If you called in using your join, use the participant ID to associate your phone number with your login. If you are in a large meeting, or with unfamiliar attendees, say your name when you start to speak.
4. Make Sure Your Mic Works
Before you connect up, test your microphone and make sure it works.
5. Mute Your Mic
Unless you're speaking, get in the habit of muting your mic. This will prevent outside or background noise from bleeding through and interrupting the meeting.
6. Prevent Zoombombing
Be an informed and empowered meeting host and take precautions to reduce your vulnerability to uninvited attendees. Learn more about Zoombombing.
putting your best foot forward
With virtual meetings continuing to be an integral part of work communication and relationship building, you should also want to consider what your virtual setup says about you. Here are some tips to help make your video conferencing presence as professional as can be:
1. Dress for Success
Getting on the video call in your pajama pants might be tempting, but follow your workplace’s dress code when on the call. How you feel does influence how you interact with others. For video calls especially, avoid wearing bright white or intricate patterns that can be distracting on camera.
2. Consider Your Camera Background
Is your background busy? Will it distract the other attendees when it's your turn to talk? Do you have bright colors behind you? Try to have a neutral background, like a solid colored white or gray wall. Although it's an option on Zoom, avoid virtual backgrounds as well, as they can be distracting.
3. Look at Your Camera When You Aren't Speaking
It can be hard to not look down at someone else’s video image when they're talking on the screen, but for them, seeing you look directly at the camera will make it feel like you are looking at them and will create a better connection.
4. Keep Your Camera at Eye Level
Having your computer on your lap might be comfortable, but for others on the call, this extreme angle can keep them from focusing on the content of your words. Keeping your computer on a desk that doesn’t move will also help with video image stability.
5. Use Good Lighting
Make sure your video conferencing space has lighting that illuminates your face. One large lamp can help or set yourself up by a window to use natural lighting.
As the host, it's your responsibility for the quality and outcome of your online meetings. Being prepared BEFORE you host an online meeting, and making sure all of your attendees are as prepared as well, will ensure your meetings are as effective as possible.
Are you using Teams, Zoom, or GoToMeeting? How do your meetings run? Please share your thoughts in the Comment box below or shoot me an email if you'd like to chat about this in more detail.