10 Practical Hacks to Be More Professional During Online Meetings
The popularity of online meetings has skyrocketed in recent times.
However, many businesses are failing to train their staff on how to participate effectively in remote meetings.
As a result, communication can feel disjointed and impersonal, which can negatively impact productivity and ruin rapport.
In this article I address the ten most common mistakes to ensure you and your team are both professional and engaged when meeting online.
- Video lag and intermittent sound negatively impacts meetings and leads to frustration and delays.
- If you can watch YouTube or Netflix on high resolution without interruption to the playback, then your internet should be sufficient for online meetings.
- Make sure you test your internet before the meeting using www.speedtest.com. Try positioning your computer nearer your router or use a wired connection. Consider fibre-optic and have a 4G backup
- You can’t participate in an online meeting if people can’t hear you! Straining to hear someone and having to ask them to repeat themselves continually is frustrating and kills the flow of conversations.
- Consider purchasing an external mic on a stand or a headset with a mic-arm to keep your hands free. Laptop and camera mics are notoriously low quality.
- 38% of communication is through the tone of your voice. Therefore, it’s essential you speak at a natural volume and don’t get frustrated if people can’t hear you as this may affect how people interpret the meaning of your words.
- Communication is 55% visual. When you chose not to switch on your video, you make it easier for the meaning of your words to be misinterpreted. It’s also really disconcerting when you have your camera, and someone else doesn’t!
- Quick tip- drag the meeting window to the top of your screen as near to your camera as possible. Make the window small, so your eyes are looking in the direction of your camera when you are watching the speaker on screen. Also, use the ‘speaker focus’ view if available as this stops you having to flick your eyes around the screen each time someone new starts to speak.
- One more thing. Don’t force your colleagues and clients to stare up your nose for the entire meeting! Your camera needs to be at eye level. Consider using an external camera or use an external keyboard and mouse so you can prop your laptop on a laptop stand (or a few books).
- Having a camera is pointless if people can’t see your face! For this, you need to have a well-positioned light source.
- Sit facing a window or other light source. Turn off lights behind you and close any blinds. Try to light your face from both sides if possible.
5. Longer Pauses
Many of the natural cues from body language and posture missed in online meetings, so you need to give people extra time to respond. This is especially true when people are new to online meetings as it can take a while for them to gain confidence in the new environment.
6. Encourage Participation
When people sit around a table, it’s easy to spot when someone isn’t involved, and a good Chair would bring them into the conversation. This is much more challenging in remote meetings, and it’s easy to forget about quite individuals so everyone should make a conscious effort not to speak over people and to involve everyone in the discussions.
7. Written Notes
Unless you are a master touch-typer, I recommend you scribble your notes on paper and type them up later. Doing this will allow you to focus better on the conversations as you’re not continually looking at and thinking about your finger position.
8. Share Your Screen
When you discuss a document, web page or anything on your computer, share your screen and use your mouse to highlight as your would a laser pointer during a presentation. Doing this improves engagement and makes it much easier to follow what you are talking about- especially when bringing the conversation back after a tangent.
- Online meetings can be recorded at the touch of a button. Consider if this would be useful for your company. We do this so our team can clarify what was said without having to ask the attendees to recall events at a later date.
- We also scribe our meetings using the recordings as the scribe can listen at double speed so this saves time and money.
- Having a video archive has also proved useful with dispute resolution. We also share recordings of coaching sessions with our clients and staff so they can refer back as needed.
- And finally, LISTEN! When you’re in an online meeting, it’s easy to think people can’t see you. You may be tempted to check emails, look at your phone or whatever else you can think of. Try to resist this urge. Instead, imagine that you are sat in the meeting room with your colleagues and only do the things you would if they could see you.
- In an online meeting, people can still see your eyes. If you continually look at your phone, they will think your distracted and not paying attention.
- Lastly, if your the host, try to stare directly at the camera when other people speak, rather than looking at their image on the screen. This makes people feel as though you are giving them your undivided attention.
Good luck with your online meetings!
Dr. Steve Day
PS: If you’re using Zoom Meetings, please click here to watch this 30 minute deep dive into setting up and using Zoom like a pro.