After all our experience with video conferencing in the last year, you’d think we would all be experts. But alas, even the most experienced video callers can fall victim to some common mistakes. Whether you’re working or learning from home, virtual meetings don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Here are a few tips to help ensure your next virtual meeting is as stress-free and professional as possible.
Use the mute button
Listening plays an important role in the workplace and job performance. It’s best to mute when listening and unmute when speaking. Unless you’re consistently involved in the discussion, there is no need to be unmuted the entire meeting. Dogs barking, keyboards clacking and chips crunching are all amplified in a Zoom meeting and are distracting for both you and whoever else is in your meeting. While you should be focused on whoever is talking during your meeting, external noises and distractions are unavoidable. Silence those noises with the mute button, but don’t forget to unmute when you’re ready to contribute!
Be mindful of the dress code for meetings. You should know which meetings require a nice top and which ones you can attend in a T-shirt. While we have all realized that only the top of our torso is visible during video calls, consider wearing bottoms that would look acceptable if your lower half was seen. You never know when you might have to unexpectedly stand up during the meeting. Your boss may not want to see your fuzzy pajama pants! Furthermore, dressing nice can help boost your confidence when communicating with others.
Familiarize yourself with the platform
From joining the wrong call to forgetting how to share your screen, many technical issues could be avoided with a bit of practice.
One of the most important is making sure you are familiar with the web conferencing platform. There are many different ones and just because you know one, doesn’t mean you can do the same things on all of them. Before using a new platform, familiarize yourself with how it works and where each of the functions are so you’re ready to go when it’s time. You don’t want to be watching the videoconferencing software slowly download while everyone else joins the meeting on time.
When you are getting ready to deliver a presentation, take a few minutes beforehand and practice sharing your screen. For more important presentations, you could practice with a colleague on the platform earlier that day or week.
Follow camera etiquette
While some meetings require your camera to be on, it isn’t necessary for all. If you’re unsure, try joining with your camera off and following the lead of others in the meeting. You must understand the etiquette that is appropriate for your meeting. For some meetings, it may be important to see a person to gauge facial cues whereas others may be more focused on a presentation or require extensive screen sharing.
If you do have to have an on-camera meeting, prepare in advance by checking that your camera is angled correctly and your face is well lit.
Get rid of the distracting background
Imagine you are in a Zoom call. The speaker is talking but all you can think about is the distracting background behind them. It’s hard to focus on what is being said when you’re watching someone talk on a video call but all you can focus on is their dirty laundry or pile of unwashed dishes in the background. It may seem basic, but it is really important to have a simple, tasteful background when on camera. While you cannot control someone else's environment, you can try making sure that your background is clean or uniform. You may consider having your back to a plain colored wall so that your colleagues are not distracted.
Join on time
Professionalism is just as important online as it is in person. Be respectful to your teachers, peers or coworkers when logging on and try to join a few minutes before the start time. If you’re a key participant, alert others as soon as possible if you’ll be late. When you have to join late, try to be discreet and don’t announce your presence if you don’t have to so the meeting won’t be disrupted.
Silence your notifications
If you’re sharing your screen during a meeting, remember that your notifications will be visible to all. Be sure to put your computer on do not disturb, or a similar function, to ensure no interruptions. It will also prevent everyone from seeing any personal or embarrassing exchanges that are best kept private.
Virtual working and learning are here to stay and expectations are now higher than they were when people first started video conferencing over a year ago. There’s no better time than now to learn and apply best practices to ensure you’re on the path to success!