Handle The New Era Of Business Like A Pro

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing its rapid spread across the country, many workers are forced to do their jobs remotely. One of the major changes in these strange, uncertain times is the proliferation of the virtual meeting. Whether through Slack or Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet, many of us are new to the entire concept of a conference conducted entirely through webcams. Here are the top 7 tips on how best to adapt to this new era, and how Qbitt can make virtual meetings simpler than ever.

1. Minimize Distractions

Let Mom Know You’re In A Meeting.

There’s nothing more annoying when trying to pay attention to important information than distractions. A key point to any virtual meeting is to treat it the same as an in-person meeting.

If you’re in the middle of any ongoing conversations, let the parties know that you are entering a meeting. Additionally, set your phone to Do Not Disturb mode to ensure maximum privacy. Just as you’re expected not to look at your phone in the conference room, leave unnecessary devices alone until the meeting is over.

Choose The Right Setting.

Don’t be the guy/gal with barking dogs or screaming kids running by. Unless absolutely necessary, choose a quiet, private place to participate in the meeting. With that said, context is important – bedroom, yes. Bathroom, no.

Choose as simple of a background as possible. As always, seek to minimize distractions and maximize professionalism. Lighting can be a key feature as well. With the wrong lighting, you can be difficult to see. Try and put yourself in front of soft, indirect light, and do your best to stay away from other light sources in your room. Don’t sit near any windows, and make sure not to have any light coming in from behind you.

Leave The Keyboard Alone…

Keyboards aren’t just loud. While this can definitely be an issue, they can also be distracting and lead you to unproductive behaviors. Making a concerted effort to not touch your keyboard can make all the difference between being an attentive and responsive co-worker and one who falls behind.

On that note, make sure you’re away from anything that might distract you. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit – they all have their time and place, but in the meeting room is not one of them. Just as you wouldn’t browse Instagram in a meeting with your co-workers and managers before the pandemic, you shouldn’t do so online.

…Or Don’t.

Just as with anything else, context is important here. If you’re a student attending online classes, using your keyboard is a must. Taking notes, answering prompts, and doing relevant research can be a positive use of the ol’ QWERTY. That said, it’s important to stay diligent and not get distracted by other stuff when you’re actively using your computer.

You can also use your keyboard in a work meeting, as long as you make it clear you’re staying fully attentive. Taking notes can even show your client or boss that you’re prepared to take action on what’s being discussed. Either way, if you do need to type something, it might help to mute your microphone if possible.

2. Troubleshoot Technology First

Make Sure You Have A Working Mic And Webcam…

As the way we do work changes, it’s becoming exceedingly important to have a solid webcam and microphone setup at home. You can find good 1080p webcams on Amazon for around $40. If you’re on a laptop, the built-in webcam will probably suffice for most work or school-related needs. If you don’t have a webcam available and video chat is an absolute imperative, most modern smartphones have good front-facing cameras and have apps for the main virtual chat platforms.

Most standard pairs of headphones have microphones now, but if you foresee yourself doing video chats for a while, it couldn’t hurt to invest in an external microphone. Again, there are many solid options on Amazon in the $40 range. However, there’s a good chance your webcam or laptop might already have a built-in microphone. If yours has one, test it out to make sure the sound and acoustics are up to par.

…And Be Sure To Troubleshoot Before The Meeting!

The last thing you want to do is hold up an important appointment. If the meeting is at 2:00 PM, you are expected to be ready to go at 2:00 PM. Troubleshooting isn’t difficult, but if you’re unsure how to do it yourself, most major virtual meeting apps provide you with simple ways to test your equipment. Click one of the links below to learn more.

meet logo     Google Meet

microsoft teams logo     Microsoft Teams

zoom     Zoom

preparing for meeting

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

Maintain Formality.

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.

zoom call example

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

Let’s recap!

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.

Qbitt Makes Scheduling Meetings With Your Team A Breeze!

Could it be possible that the simplest, most robust way to schedule appointments with your employees and interact with clients is absolutely free? It’s true! Find Qbitt on iOS, Android, or on your web browser and discover how it can help your business succeed!

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