Rogier Bosch, Consultant
Practice-Tips: The Do’s and Don’ts of Online-Meetings
The number of video meetings has increased dramatically in recent years. Most employees now spend a lot of their time using Zoom, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Skype (for Business) and other platforms that enable video calls. These remote video calls are business-critical and have their own challenges in an era when we are less and less able to collaborate in person.
13 Tips for Digital Meetings
Although it’s now accepted to be dressed a little more casually on video calls, you should remember that you’re still in a professional environment. That’s why we recommend you pay attention to the following points when meeting online:
- Be punctual
Respect the time of other meeting participants by being online at the appointed time. Showing up in the middle of an ongoing meeting is distracting to others. This can also take up valuable time if the host decides to let you know what you missed.
- Dress appropriately
You may need to wear “business casual” or formal attire when meeting with clients. One of the unspoken benefits of telecommuting is that, in theory, you don’t have to get out of your sweatpants. But when you’re on video calls, your colleagues or clients can at least see you from the waist up. Stay in your sweatpants if you must but put on regular work clothes over them to maintain professionalism. It’s easiest to do this first thing in the morning – even if you don’t have any calls scheduled because you never know when you’ll be asked to make a call.
- Make sure the background is tidy
A cluttered or messy background is not only distracting, but also gives people a glimpse into your habits and organizational skills. Strive for a clean and simple background or use the virtual background feature if the platform you are using offers it.
- Optimize your workplace
Set up in a well-lit workspace where you have good Internet reception. Make sure it is an area of the house that is free from distractions and noise. Your notepad, pen, and reports and other office supplies should be within reach.
- Choose the right technology
The most effective video conferences are minimalist. Participants don’t want to spend too much time setting up cameras and microphones, downloading software or loading PowerPoint presentations. That’s because it undermines the reason many people prefer virtual meetings – they’re less costly and more productive. Be sure to choose a reliable and professional system. If you’re coordinating the meeting, test the microphone and video beforehand. All video conferencing systems have a feature that allows you to perform this test before the meeting even begins. Send presentations and agenda items in advance so that participants have them ready when the meeting begins.
- Be calm and attentive
Seeing and hearing are the two most important signals in a video call. If you move around too much in front of the screen, you’ll distract the other participants in the conversation, even if your microphone is muted. Just as you sit (or stand) attentively and focus during an office meeting, you should get into the habit of doing the same for video conferencing. To show professionalism and build the confidence of your team members, don’t move around too much in front of the screen and focus on what each speaker is saying.
- Introduce yourself before you start the conversation
If you are not familiar with all the participants in the meeting, you should introduce yourself at the beginning of the conversation. This will help you put names to faces. If you are participating in a conversation without a video, you will need to introduce yourself even more often. Not everyone will recognize you just by your voice. Therefore, it’s good to say something like, “This is Peter. If I may add…”
- Do not leave all windows and programs open
Turn off email and instant messaging before the virtual meeting begins. Not only will this affect how fast your computer runs and how good the sound quality is, but it will also save you embarrassment when you share your screen with someone else. Leave open only what you need for the meeting: Notes, documents, or a presentation.
- Avoid Multitasking
Video meetings are not the time to read emails, scroll through social media messages, or do other tasks unrelated to the meeting. This distracts you and makes it difficult to focus on the meeting. You should be available to give your opinion at any time. The other participants can see and sense that you have tuned out or are distracted.
- Speak clearly and send important information in a chat message
You should speak clearly and audibly when it is your turn. You can first ask if the team can hear you and check that your microphone is working properly. If you’re sharing information that includes a web link, for example, you can also type it into the chat or conversation box. This way, your teammates can easily retrieve the correct link. Make sure your message is clear and understood by everyone in the meeting. Summarize your key points at the end of your presentation.
- Be Present
Introduce yourself and greet everyone when you enter the meeting, especially if it is a telephone conversation. Listen, participate, and stay engaged. Look at the webcam, not at yourself. It can also be distracting if your gaze wanders or you are constantly talking to someone who is not within range of your video camera. It can be tempting to do other things during a long meeting, but it’s best to stay focused. Don’t check your email or type in responses. Your keyboard is near the computer’s internal microphone, so you will be heard typing if you don’t mute.
- Mute yourself or minimize your background noise
It’s a good habit to mute yourself when you’re not talking so the other participants don’t have to hear background noise. Background noise might include sounds you make while typing, your child crying in the next room, a siren wailing in the street, or other distractions. If you speak sporadically, familiarize yourself with the mute button and use it whenever someone else is speaking. If you need to talk most of the time and muting is not useful, do your part to minimize background noise before the conversation begins.
- Do not rely on body language to make your point
You can also use gestures and other body language cues to reinforce your message during video conferences, but don’t overdo it. These movements are more distracting on a video call than in a face-to-face conversation. Try to keep your movements to a minimum and don’t use body language cues or gestures to make a point that you are not making verbally. For example, if you are pointing to a chart behind you, you should verbally explain which chart you are pointing to. You cannot assume that all eyes are on the screen. Therefore, explain it again in words when you make a gesture that is particularly important.
Don’t worry too much. A video call is nothing to be afraid of. Treat each call like an office meeting and you’re good to go.
The light next to the webcam not only indicates that the camera is on but is also the point you should look at when speaking. This way you give the impression that you are looking directly into the eyes of the other participants.
Junokai is the consulting arm of Majorel. The Berlin-based consulting company supports clients from various industries in all areas of customer service. Junokai was founded in 2013 by experienced managers with extensive professional expertise in sales and marketing, and customer service. The company’s strategic pillar is its operational experience and focus on customer experience, customer service and sales.
For more information, please visit: www.junokai.de