Due to the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus, many employers are now encouraging work from home. The trouble is how to organize this sudden, unplanned remote work. The solution is simple and it is found in virtual meetings.

While I am of the opinion that nothing can quite replace the benefits of face-to-face communication, we need to ensure that our virtual gatherings are of the highest quality. That is why I have prepared several tips in order to help you make your virtual meeting a pleasant experience, resulting in efficiently completed tasks.

Adopt new routines

Almost every employee will opt for working onsite rather than virtual meetings. This is mainly due to simplicity but also because of the common opinion that virtual meetings lack in quality and results. The truth behind it is that you can be even more focused and productive at a virtual meeting. Make sure that you always come prepared, otherwise, the meeting will definitely result in failure. Prepare your main topics, share them with your coworkers, listen effectively on the call, and make sure to include all relevant participants.

Let’s get started

First, you need to pick the right device such as a computer, laptop or smartphone. If you are meeting with more than two people, I recommend using a computer or laptop to ensure smooth communication. The advantage of a video gathering is that you can clearly see everyone at the same time, see their body language, facial expressions and it can greatly improve communication. While smartphones can get the job done, the smaller screen may make it harder for you to see who is talking or to catch on to somebody’s body language, decreasing the quality of the virtual meeting. Most laptops already have a built-in camera and microphone; if not, you can easily buy them online. Also, if you have any background noise, a headset or ear pods with a microphone will help you a lot.

Internet speed

One of the main tools for a quality video connection is of course your internet speed. For example, if multiple individuals are using the same internet connection as you (playing games or downloading movies), it will definitely negatively affect the quality of your video call. The recommended technical requirement is reasonably low – ranging from about 2 Megabytes per second (download and upload) to about 4 Mbs as a minimum threshold. It is good practice to turn off your VPN if you are connected to one because it will significantly improve your internet connection. 

You can check your speed online, here.

Choosing the appropriate software

Apple, Google and Microsoft provide many software solutions on how to meet up online. A list of the top 10 free video conferencing options are as following:

  1. Zoom
  2. Google Hangouts
  3. UberConference
  4. TrueConf Online
  5. Skype
  6. FreeConference
  7. Appear.in
  8. Slack Video Calls
  9. Facebook Live
  10. YouTube Live

A detailed description of each option can be found here.

Keep in mind that video bombing during Corona has become very popular, so make sure to secure your video call with passwords and additional protection. 

Zoom recently published a Blog on some simple steps you can take by going through the Preferences settings to make sure no one “Zoom-bombs” your virtual meeting. The Zoom Blog, “How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event,” can be found here. 

Share meeting documentation

A best practice is to send whatever document or file you are going to share with all attendees before your meeting so everybody can prepare and actively participate in the call.  If you are the host, always send your materials on time, otherwise, attendants may lose time by reviewing it during the call. It will impact the quality and length of the meeting. If you are an attendant, always review all documents that were sent to you, before the call.

Final testing before meeting

It is recommended to do a test run of your virtual meeting with a friend before you host or attend the meeting. This will give you a better perception of the quality of your connection and highlight possible issues that you may face. Also, you will be able to check the audio and video quality of the call. This is the opportunity to figure out how to share your screen and step up your virtual game. Always note that lighting can impact the quality of your video call so be sure to double-check that as well.

Never be late 

As in person, it is also important to arrive on time for your virtual meeting. Make sure to send a calendar invitation and an email invite to the call on time. Prepare a quick reminder before the meeting and show up at least five minutes before as a courtesy and to show respect to other attendants. In the sea of our daily obligations, this can be very helpful and considerate of you. Pay attention to the time zone of your meeting as well, especially if working with people in different time zones.

Rules to hold on to during the call

  • Acknowledge participants in the call and use their name while referring to them.
  • Be an active listener and don’t interrupt. 
  • Don’t get distracted by newly received emails or notifications, it is best to turn off your alerts if you can.
  • Remember to ask everyone to mute their mic until they are ready to talk, especially when you have more than a few people on the call. 

Explain that combined background noise can drown out the audio portion of the meeting.

  • Use the “Chat” box to ask questions when someone is talking.
  • At the end of the meeting, make sure you shut down the meeting entirely before you step away, so everyone is disconnected – including you!

To conclude, always keep in mind The 8 Do’s and 7 Don’ts of Video Conferencing Etiquette, (Source: St. Leo University Office of Information Technology).

The 8 Do’s of Video Conferencing Etiquette

  • Do be courteous to other participants
  • Do speak clearly   
  • Do keep body movements minimal    
  • Do move and gesture slowly and naturally   
  • Do maintain eye contact by looking into the camera   
  • Do dress appropriately   
  • Do make the session animated
  • Do be yourself and have fun!

The 7 Don’ts of Video Conferencing Etiquette

  • Don’t make distracting sounds
  • Don’t shout
  • Don’t make distracting movements
  • Don’t interrupt other speakers
  • Don’t carry on side conversations
  • Don’t wear “noisy” jewelry
  • Don’t cover the microphone

Have a good meeting!

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