Virtual meetings and your business
Virtual meetings have become a daily occurrence in our office, with some of our team working remotely during the pandemic. Platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or Meet, Skype, and Facetime all offer the ability to be connected without being physically close. However, just because you’re not meeting in person doesn’t mean regular meeting etiquette goes out the window!
As a rule of thumb, if you’re not talking, your microphone should be muted. This is especially important if you’re using a headset since people might be able to hear every little sound on your end. That includes breathing, coughs, if you’re clicking away to a different tab, etc.
Hint: Use the push to talk function! This feature keeps your mic turned off by default and only picks up noise when you press a button to turn it on.
Wait for the lag!
On that same note, if you’re gearing up to talk, we recommend waiting for a couple of seconds after the previous speaker stops talking to account for potential lag. This will help you avoid embarrassing situations where you’re inadvertently speaking over your teammates. Poor audio quality can also make participants hard to understand, so a little patience goes a long way!
Schedule and plan your meetings
When you hold an in-person meeting the majority of the time it has been pre-scheduled and all participants know when and where the meeting will take place. The same principles apply to virtual meetings! Before each meeting, preferably a day or two in advance, every participant should know when it will take place, on what meeting software (Zoom, Google Hangouts or Meet, Skype etc.), and a general idea of what the meeting will cover.
The idea here is simple. By giving team members a heads up about when meetings will take place and what you expect to cover, things will move along much faster. Everyone will be able to get their computers set up, prepare any important points, and gather any references they’ll need during the meeting.
Test your equipment
It’s always a good idea to test your camera and microphone before starting or joining a meeting. Even if you’ve just been in a meeting it’s always good to check before the next one, that way you can avoid the frustrating and time-wasting troubleshooting that can impact everyone else.
In most cases, however, your microphone is more important than your camera. If it’s hard to make out what someone is saying during an online call, it can derail the entire procedure. You can test yours on your own, or using features provided by your virtual meeting platform.
If you don’t have one, consider purchasing a basic headset to use specifically for online calls. It can make a significant difference in your audio quality, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on one.
We get it and we’ve all done it – throw on a decent shirt and jump right into a meeting because hey, no one can see your pants or lack thereof! Just make absolutely sure you don’t have to get up during the meeting. Embarrassing mishaps can be easily avoided.
Send a meeting summary
Although preparation can help prevent most technical issues related to virtual meetings, sometimes they can’t be avoided. Poor connections or a lack of access to quality equipment could make it difficult for some of your team members to easily participate in video conferences.
Sending a meeting summary to all participants after the fact can ensure everyone is on the same page with what was discussed. It’s also extremely helpful to those who joined into the meeting late, had to leave early, or who struggle to follow along on virtual meetings.
Honestly, this is a great idea for face to face meetings too!
Choose your workspace wisely
Working from home has its benefits and its challenges. One particularly difficult challenge is finding the right spot to conduct your meetings. The ideal spot would be a quiet space with minimum to no noise and no interruptions. Working from home may mean being surrounded by kids, pets, family members, and various other distractions. Cute as they might be, such interruptions can quickly derail a video conference.
It’s also smart to let others in your home know that you’re going to be in a virtual meeting. That way, they’ll be less likely to interrupt. While this may be difficult to explain to your toddler or dog, try to get as many people as possible on the same page so your call can go off without a hitch.
Wrapping this up
Virtual meetings are not an excuse to forget basic etiquette. Everyone involved needs to respect each other’s time, and laying down some ground rules is an excellent way to ensure meetings don’t devolve into everyone talking over each other. Maintaining good meeting etiquette fosters higher productivity during meetings and is more likely to end on a positive note.