3. Prepare For Your Call
Before jumping into the meeting, prepare any necessary documents, applications, and notes. Fiddling around can come off as distracting and unprofessional.
If you’re the one managing the meeting, you will want to ensure that you schedule all relevant parties and, conversely, don’t invite unnecessary people. Scheduling apps such as Qbitt can prove invaluable to ensuring all of your employees and co-workers know when and where your meeting is. Qbitt allows you to pick a date and time for your meeting, and it will automatically create a meeting in your preferred virtual conference application.
Whether you’re running the show or just participating, it’s essential to prepare an agenda prior to the meeting. This can help keep your meeting organized and will keep everyone on topic. Having a list of talking points or questions can also be very helpful. If appropriate, you might also consider preparing a closing statement at the end of your presentation or when the meeting is concluded.
4. Start The Call Right
As previously mentioned, don’t let the casual feeling of being at home distract you from the formalities of an office meeting or virtual classroom. Be sure to introduce yourself politely, and acknowledge other people by name. However, as with anything, context is key – if your boss is showing up in her SpongeBob pajamas, feel free to wear your Star Wars onesie!
Smile, They’re Watching!
A major difference from an in-person meeting is that you probably can see everyone in a virtual meeting at once. Whereas meetings in the conference room would generally have most people looking at a single speaker, virtual conferences provide the means to see all of your co-workers simultaneously – and that includes you! It’s important to appear engaged, attentive, and enthusiastic.
Assume someone is watching you at all times. If you have to pick your nose, turn your camera off!
5. Protect Sensitive Information
Use Good Screensharing Practices.
If you’re sharing your screen, try your best to continue minimizing distractions as best you can. Close any irrelevant tabs, and turn off any music and sounds if they’re not needed. For added professionalism, clean up your desktop beforehand, hide your taskbar (or just press F11 if you are in your web browser), and hide your bookmarks (Control + Shift + B).
Take Your (Potty) Breaks Alone.
This may come as a no-brainer, but if you’re tired or distracted, you might slip up like poor Jennifer earlier this year. If you’re using a laptop or smartphone, make sure you leave them in place if you need to take a break. Definitely don’t lug your desktop and monitor into your bathroom, if at all possible. Even if you’re not doing anything too personal, moving around too much can prove distracting, and, unless your house is spotless, might shine you in a bad light depending on the context.
6. Be Respectful To Yourself And Others
You Can’t Walk The Walk, So Talk The Talk.
Speak clearly, concisely, and slowly. As most people in your conference are likely to be in separate locations with varied internet connections and setups, there’s no guarantee that things will go smoothly all of the time. You might short out for just a second or two, but that’s all it takes to knock listeners off of your train of thought, forcing you to scramble and repeat yourself. Changing your speech patterns to match the context can help everyone involved.
Lag, minor connection shortages, and hardware problems can be very real issues in the world of virtual conferencing. While it’s important to get the technological aspects of virtual conferences right, there could always be things that happen outside of your control.
Keep Your Eyes On The Prize.
When speaking, try your best to look at your webcam. It’s a good, easy way for your listeners to know that it’s time to concentrate on what you’re saying. If you’re looking at yourself or something else on-screen, it can add an unnecessary layer of confusion to the meeting. Be sure to do your best not to interrupt anyone else speaking, too. All video chat providers have a slight delay between the sending and receiving of video data, so pay attention to that as well.
If you are not speaking, it’s generally a good idea to mute your microphone. Some microphones have a mute button, but every video chat provider will have one to use on-screen. If need be, you can also turn off your camera. This will protect your coworkers from further distractions. It also lets you comfortably take a swig of water, adjust your seat, or let out an otherwise embarrassing noise with impunity.
7. Above All, Stay Professional
Once again, the best thing you can do is treat any virtual meeting with the same respect and consideration as an in-person one. Dress appropriately, free yourself of any distractions (both in your home and on your screen), and treat your fellow business mates as you would like to be treated. Come prepared, stay focused, and your online meetings will go as smoothly as can be.
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