June 17, 2020

“Zoomed In”

Are you hosting or attending an online meeting?

I would bet you have in the past and that you are in the future.

To say that things have changed this year would probably be an understatement.

For most, the concept of “Business as Usual” has taken on a whole new meaning in 2020.

The effects of the Corona Virus and Social Distancing have had an enormous impact on how we go about our normal day of conducting meetings and interacting with our clients, peers, and work colleagues.

With that, the most notable change has come with the adoption of online video conferencing as a more common means of facilitating meetings than in the past, the most popular being Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype.

While not a new technology, it has come to the forefront as one of the biggest changes and most leveraged communication platforms that will be more commonplace for everyone in business going forward into the foreseeable future.

It’s permeated so much into commonality that a large insurance company has made a parody commercial poking fun at users doing all of the things you probably shouldn’t be doing on video conferencing.

With that idea in mind, I thought it would be a fun exercise to point out some of the “Best Practices” that we have both observed and learned from using these platforms with great frequency in the last three months.

Trial run or Practice run – For those of you that have not hosted a meeting, it’s a good idea to host a practice meeting to familiarize yourself with the platform. You can use that time to make sure you understand how all of the functions work as well as test your computer connection, audio, and video. It’s better to work all of the kinks out before a meeting as opposed to in a meeting.

Background/Location – Be aware of where you are and what will be seen in the background of your camera. If there are things you do or do not want viewers to see, do a trial run with your computer’s camera and make sure you have it set up the way you want. The idea is to not have anything that would distract, offend, or otherwise take an attendee’s attention away from the meeting topic.

If there are multiple people in your home, communicating the time of the meeting with everyone there will help to cut down on distractions as well. It may be a good idea to have a “Quiet Please, Meeting in Progress” sign posted outside of your room.

Camera/Video – First, make sure you have nothing covering your camera. Most people I know usually have or have had something covering the camera on their computers. Second, make sure your lens is clean and free of any debris or smudges. If the camera is not good on your computer, you may want to purchase an add on camera for better quality.

Audio – If you plan to use the microphone on your computer, make sure it’s working correctly and your voice is being heard clearly. Personally, I try to use earbuds/pods whenever possible. Doing so cuts down on much of the background noise that may arise during the meeting. It will also help with the clarity of your voice when speaking.

It’s also a best practice to mute your microphone when you are not speaking or participating in the dialogue of the meeting. The only trick being, you have to un-mute yourself when you do want to speak, lol.

Appearance (personal) – I know that should go without saying, but you don’t want to be the topic of discussion because your appearance looks like you just rolled out of bed. Business Casual is one thing but bed head and wrinkled and dirty tee shirts are another.

  • Pro tip – Keep a brush and a good shirt/top close by to tidy up and put on before a meeting and take off after.

Time Allotment – For those of you that are working at an office with multiple users, make sure you are allotting extra time for your meeting as to not run over into someone else’s time slot. It’s better to have more time available to use as opposed to needing more time and having to end a meeting abruptly and unfinished.

Avoid Multitasking - You'll retain the discussion better if you refrain from replying to emails or text messages during the meeting. It will also show the participants that you are engaged and participating in the discussion.

Securing the meeting – Lastly, whenever possible, distribute your Zoom meeting link only to those individuals who will be attending your class or meeting. If you do not intend to have strangers “Zoom Bomb” your meeting, make sure you make the meeting private, requiring a pass-code and/or waiting room to attend.

It’s always important to remember that although you may be working from your home, in shorts and a tee-shirt these days, you still want to conduct your meeting in a professional manner.

The success of a meeting can greatly depend on the little things going right and finishing well. Hopefully, leveraging these “Best Practices” will help you be more prepared, have smoother meetings, and be more productive in your web-based meetings.

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