Author: Helen Barthorpe, Orchard
We are all aware of the situation we find ourselves in at the moment – unprecedented times (put a pound in a jar every time you hear that phrase!). Alongside the concern about our loved ones, we must also push ahead and keep our minds busy while working from home.
Online meeting tools are now part of our day to day. At Orchard, Google and Google Hangouts are our go to, but we also pop up on Skype, Zoom, Go2Webinar, Join.me or whatever makes sense for our customers and partners. With this in mind, here are some tips to try and help you avoid any virtual meeting blunders!
- Grab a drink – We’ve all encountered a mid-meeting coughing fit. In the current climate, you know everyone on the call will have a comment about it. Be ready to calm the cough.
- Tidy space, tidy mind – Check the space behind you. Is there anything distracting that will stop your colleagues listening to your every word?
- Lights, Camera, Action – Does the space you are sitting in have too much, or too little light? Have a test on your own ahead of the meeting using your webcam.
- Pets – Although I welcome all pets to virtual meetings, some colleagues don’t. Just for the meeting, try closing the door to your furry friends.
- Children – We all know that children can’t be ignored / shut into a room / cupboard for a considerable amount of time. When you know you have a virtual meeting scheduled, this could be a good time for your children to have a nap / watch Frozen for the one millionth time. Be conscious of your mute button, just in case!
- Be on time – You now have minimal excuses as to why you are late. Aim to join the meeting at least 2 minutes before the start time.
- Background noise – Just before your meeting starts may not be the best time to put your washing machine on (learning from experience). Turn off the radio or TV and if your window is open, shout at your neighbours in the garden to tell them to shush as you are very busy and important!
- Mic check, one two – Is your laptop microphone good enough quality? If not, try a headset or headphones with a mic attached. Just to add, yes we can hear you shuffling papers, clicking pens and eating.
- Chatty Cathy – Be conscious about how much you are talking. Are you giving anyone else a shot? Encourage your colleagues to contribute, so you don’t lose their concentration completely.
- Be plugged in – A simple thing, but also important. You may turn off at the mains every evening, so ensure you are powered up ahead of your virtual meeting. Your battery running out midway through a colleagues presentation may look like you got bored and left the meeting on purpose. NB. Not intended to give you a good excuse for choosing to leave a meeting.
- Avoid multitasking – Stay focussed. There’s a temptation to check emails, check your phone, reply to messages during a virtual meeting. Please don’t. We’ll only have to go over the point again, taking up valuable time where we could be getting another snack.
- Actions speak louder than words – Even though we aren’t having conventional meetings at the moment, make sure you still note down your actions as you would in real life. Your manager will still be chasing you up on them and it’s good to set yourself tasks everyday.
- Show us your face – It may be tempting to attend a meeting with only your mic, no camera. Although this is ok, the meeting loses a sense of connection between colleagues which encourages conversation and strengthens relationships.
- Don’t shout – We can hear you! Make sure your speakers are turned up.
- End the call – As much as I would love to hear/see you sing at the top of your voice to that musical soundtrack you love, let’s all make sure we leave/close our virtual meetings to avoid any embarrassment.
- Sit back, relax – Maybe you get a bit self-conscious in face to face meetings in the office. Let this be your time to shine! No one can see you blush / sweat via webcam.