For a lot of us working from home over the past year or so, virtual meetings have become a regular part of our lives. And for many of us, for the first time! But if you have to organise a meeting, it can actually be quite stressful dealing with a new form of technology. We looked at some top tips for a successful virtual meeting.
It is very important that you begin any meeting prepared as you would in any meeting. A physical meeting might mean sorting overhead projectors and booking rooms and the like. You should approach a virtual meeting the same way, rather than just turning on your computer minutes before the scheduled start time.
So be prepared. Send a full agenda and timings to participants, plus full briefings on what is expected during the meeting, and how to log in to it.
Anyone who has done a Zoom or Skype video call over the past year, whether for business or pleasure will know that it can be messy sometimes as people attempt to speak at the same time. confusion often reigns. So like a normal meeting, it is important that someone is assigned as the leader or chair for the meeting. They are in charge and control the flow of discussions. They control breaks, agenda items and generally ask the questions of participants too.
By which i mean find somewhere quiet to participate in a virtual meeting. As someone who podcasts for a living, i know the importance of limiting background noise, as i live on a main road. There is constantly traffic going past, which makes edits a lengthier process. But as zoom calls pick up on noise, then find somewhere as quiet as possible. Turn off the TV if possible, and avoid a room with other people going about their business.
It is not just audio considerations you must make though. Consider the video aspect of your meeting. Firstly ensure your lens is clean so that there is no blur on your feed. Then think about your background. You dot want to cheapen a business meeting with fake backgrounds. And you also do not want anything embarrassing in the background! So keep your background simple and unassuming, so that it never acts as a distraction.
Apart from something as obvious as not having a TV on, you may wish to turn off other devices too. Your mobile phone is an obvious place to start. At the very least put it on silent. There is little more distracting as someone’s mobile phone making constant noise during a meeting. Again, just because you are sat at home, does not mean you should not treat this meeting like any other. Sounds you can barely hear are often greatly amplified to the others on the call, especially if your microphone is very sensitive.
This is hard to define, as only you know your relationship with co-workers. You may work for a company that pushes a relaxed attitude, and freedom of expression. It may not matter on this particular meeting how people look, but what is decided. But often, it helps that you approach a meeting in a professional manner, and that includes how you dress. So while i would not expect people to hold meeting in a full suit, i would expect a level of effort. So perhaps ditch the old t-shirt and shorts, not that anyone should be able to see your legs!
There is little more annoying than a meeting being delayed because a participant has to download Zoom. Or someone has not got the right equipment. Or needs to go into their settings to allow access to a webcam or similar. So perhaps it would help if this is your first meeting to test your tech before you begin. The other participants will appreciate it.
This includes having headphones and a microphone too if possible. Headphones are more important, as your computer will have its own inbuilt microphone. But a standalone microphone will mean an improved audio experience for everyone. Test them and all other settings before the call, to ensure you’re ready to go.
As well as turning off your other tech, ensure your computer itself is not running a hundred other applications during your call. This could seriously hamper the quality of your connection to the call. So turn off browsers or anything else that is open at the bottom of your screen. Let your computer’s processor concentrate on the call alone.