Video conferencing technology has been around for some time now and has been used by Freelancers, consultants, and IT teams for years now, but over the past few months, it has grown immensely in popularity thanks in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the working population is now working from home and many of them have never even attended an online conference call, let alone set one up themselves. To help you out if you are one of the many people unfamiliar with this new medium of communication, below are a few tips for your next online meeting.
Test your setup
First and foremost, you will want to check and thoroughly test your setup in order to avoid technical issues that could cause frustration, distractions, and delays while you are in the meeting itself. It is also a good idea to ask anyone you are inviting to a meeting to do the same.
When communicating over the internet, you can imagine that a good internet connection is somewhat important. In an ideal world, you would have a hardwired connection to your router but if that is not possible then at least try to have a line of sight with it instead. If that is also not possible, run speed tests around your house to find out where you have the strongest connection and set up a temporary office there. Consider collaborating using Hello Backgrounds zoom meeting background if you end up having to set up a temporary workspace somewhere that has your personal space on show, or if you simply want to hide an untidy room behind you.
Your camera and video capabilities are something that you can easily test by simply searching for it in your computer’s start menu and this will give you a good idea of what everyone else in the meeting will see once you join. This allows you to find the best spot to set your camera up and sort out the lighting, if possible you want to use natural light but if that is not possible then try to place a light source behind the camera and slightly above your head so as not to cast shadows over your face. Be sure that there are no light sources on camera as this will affect the overall quality of your video output.
Your webcam or laptop will more than likely already have a microphone and speakers built-in, but these tend not to be the best quality and we highly recommend you switch to using an external microphone and a pair of headphones. Even something as simple as a pair of phone headphones will work, the external microphone cuts down on the amount of background noise picked up, and the headphones will prevent feedback from your speakers being echoed back into the call for everyone else to hear.
Make a plan
Virtual meetings can be a challenge to keep on track because people are far more likely to get distracted when they are in the comfort of their own home. To avoid this, while it may seem a little old fashioned, we recommend that you create an agenda for any meeting you host that you can forward to other participants. The agenda can be time-sensitive or not, but should at least include the reason for the meeting, the topics you want to discuss, and the overall goal you want to achieve. Additionally, it may be a good idea to make a list of ground rules that can function as an office code of conduct to remind any attendees to act professionally.
Use the technology available
At first glance, an online meeting can seem like a step backward from the face to face interactions we are normally used to. However, with modern technology, there are actually plenty of tools available to make your life easier and your work more efficient. For example, use screen sharing to quickly and efficiently share information, and use virtual whiteboards to brainstorm ideas or discuss topics.
Record your calls
Finally, one of the most useful advantages of a virtual meeting is the ability to record it at the touch of a button. While this may not be ideal for meetings where privacy is important, for daily meetings it is a great way to keep everyone on the same page, even if they were unable to attend the meeting live.