10 Practical Hacks to Be More Professional During Online Meetings

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.

 

1. Internet

  • 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

 

2. Audio

  • 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.

 

3. Camera

  • 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).

 

4. Lighting

  • 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.

 

9. Record

  • 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.

 

10. Listen

  • 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.

The Search for the Best 1-2-1, Group Meeting, and Webinar Software!

The Search for the Best 1-2-1, Group Meeting, and Webinar Software!

As a business owner, we always need to be in the loop. There is always the need to communicate, and to communicate effectively. Not being to provide information or respond at the right time using the best medium, including a webinar software, could make or break a business deal.

For one-on-one communication, I’ve been using my phone and Skype. When I need to deliver information to many, I usually use Facebook to post on my groups and pages. (See how I outsource doing that here.) Now that I need to deliver my Systems and Outsourcing course, I was prompted to find a communication platform for interactive group sessions and webinars. This is totally different as I would need to be talking rather than typing, would be presenting lessons rather than information tidbits, and as the sessions are scheduled, I need to provide real value to my audience.

I outsourced this task and asked my VA to look for the best platform to deliver the course launch. Here are the criteria that I used: 

  • I need to have at least 10 participants.
  • I want to share my screen and also have a webcam cast of myself in the bottom corner of the screen.
  • Whiteboard function would be a bonus.
  • I want participants to be able to write questions and comments throughout the screencast.
  • I needed to record the audio and video.
  • Ability to have a 2-hour session if needed.
  • I also needed remote desktop (if I was going to use the same platform for 1-2-1s).

Based on those considerations, she began the search. We already have an idea what the most common platforms are being used based on experience, but we needed to confirm, so she first turned to Google for a list of these platforms. We found this article at the top of the search results, and it mainly confirmed that Google Hangouts, Join.me, and Zoom are among the more popular webinar tools.

Google Hangouts

This tool is a completely free option for anyone who has a Google account. This is both a strength and limitation. Strength because it allows for quick and easy integration with other Google apps and services like Google Calendar, and Gmail. The downside of this is that it is not usable for someone who does not have a Google account. If any one of your audience does not have a Google account, you would have to create it for them.

Google Hangouts is also readily available for any Google user that has a webcam and microphone. It also has the screen-sharing feature and automatic focus on the person doing the talking during the conference call.

However, another limitation is that Google Hangouts only allows 10 people in a single conference call. This means that it is not really made for webcasts. Nevertheless, a workaround for this being commonly employed is recording the call and uploading it to another platform for everyone else to watch.

Join.me

Unlike Google Hangouts, Join.me is a webinar tool that does not require account set up for anyone who wants to join the meeting or conference. A participant only needs the unique meeting ID to be able to access the webinar.

Join.me has third-party integration, such as Google Suite and Office 365. It also offers 5GB cloud storage for recordings, but it is less likely that this will be consumed in a single session since it does not have HD quality video. It also allows screen-sharing, mouse and keyboard control, meeting control, whiteboard annotations, and text chats. It costs $18 per month per user.

Zoom

Zoom is like Join.me and more. A participant only needs a unique URL to join the conference. This can be used on either a mobile or desktop app. It also has third-party integrations with more apps than Join.me’s. It has HD quality video recording capability as well.

This tool only has 1GB cloud storage, but has full integration with Dropbox. It is also the cheapest option for only $14.99 per month per user.

We, therefore, chose Zoom over the other two, and if given a second option, we would definitely use Join.me for the simple reason that we do not want to bother with the set up for the participants who do not have a Google account.

Free Versions

If you are planning to use only the basic features of Zoom or Join.me, here’s a list of what they can offer for free:

ZoomJoin.me
Participants5010
Call length40 minutesUnlimited
ScreensharingYesYes
RecordingYesNo

I now use Zoom and have found it to be excellent quality for both audio and video (far better than Skype). The controls are a little tricky to find the first time but once you get the hang of it, it’s a great piece of software. It is a perfect tool for one-on-one calls (especially due to the remote desktop function), small group meetings, and even for webinars (at an additional cost).

Have you had any experience using any group meeting or webinar platforms? What did you like and did not like about them? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.