Hybrid working is set to stay with remote roles and split teams ensuring not everyone needs to be in the office at once. With your team being out and about - meetings are still largely digital and with that comes a host of well documented issues… Jokes around “can you see my screen”, awkward waves and “you’re on mute” are becoming increasingly common.
That being said, it’s easy to overlook the fact that many of us have never been trained on how to conduct a professional virtual meeting. The digital shift happened almost overnight for many businesses, some even having to play catch up and get the correct digital infrastructure in place.
If this sounds like your experience and you’re now attending more virtual meetings, these tips will ensure your meetings are professionally conducted and run smoothly.
Environment is key
Quiet environments are not always easy to come by. Even in the office, space can be a premium! Open plan can be great for conducting your daily tasks but when communication turns digital, it’s not an ideal environment to have a virtual meeting.
Ideally you need to be in a quiet space that isn’t too echoey - or the person on the other end of the meeting will hear themselves, unless you’re using headphones but more on this later! While the local coffee shop is great for a change of scenery while doing deep focus tasks, it’s not the ideal for prolonged meetings.
If you’re still working at home, ensure you’re in a quiet space with no electronics like music or TV in the background. While disruptions from children or people knocking on the door are understandable, thinking ahead of time and mitigating any risks will enable you to relax into the meeting easier. If it is slightly noisy still - there’s always the infamous mute button!
Pay attention to your background
When having a virtual meeting, it’s mostly a good idea to have your camera on so you can still have that face to face rapport with your team or clients. You should bear in mind though that your background can be pretty distracting to the people on a call.
Having a plain and neutral background will help to focus the attention onto you. Any attention grabbing art and even bookshelves can detract from what you’re saying. Instead of listening to the content of the meeting, it’s easy for people to check out the latest reads on your bookshelf instead. If you don’t have a space that is suitable, most platforms now enable you to create your own background.
Another annoying factor that’s not in our control is the weather! When it’s sunny, if you’re positioned by a window, the glare can be really distracting. It works best to have some LED lamps behind your camera directed towards you - this places the focus onto your face and helps people to see you clearly.
What equipment is best?
Whatever you do, don’t conduct your work meetings on your phone camera. Either a laptop or desktop with a webcam works best. It’s much more stable and means the conversation should flow better. Ideally your camera should be at face height too so that you can look directly into it when speaking to the other attendees.
If your room is echoey, you might need to invest in some acoustic soundboards (in the office) but at home a rug and some soft furnishings should do the trick. They dampen the reverberation and create a clearer and more warmer sound.
Headphones are great if your environment is a little busy - sometimes we can’t control external factors like outside building work or people walking past your room. You can still take part and hear everything. It also ensures that when people are talking, they won't hear their own voice echo back!
Lastly, the notebook and pen combination is a must. If you’re on your laptop to conduct the meeting then you’d have to switch to a different screen to write your notes which can be distracting when there’s a few of you in the meeting. It makes it more difficult to follow who is talking. Also, typing makes a sound and writing doesn’t - meaning you’ll still be able to hear everything!