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Due to the global pandemic we’ve lived through in the last couple years, the way we work has changed quite a bit.  One of the more significant changes felt through out the entire business world is the prevalence of virtual meetings.  Meeting people face to face is still rare these days, and this trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon.

Although there are plenty of advantages to this new default meeting type, there are a couple of pitfalls to watch out for and a whole new set of rules we must adopt to make sure everything continues to operate smoothly.

I’d like to take a moment of your time to explain some of these in the hopes that you see the value and adopt these mannerisms for your next virtual meetings.

  1. Prepare your tech!

Make sure your camera and audio setup are working before joining the meeting.  For example, if you are using Microsoft Teams, you can verify your setup by clicking on the “…” in the top right of your Teams window, selecting Settings and then Devices.  From here you can adjust your speaker, microphone, and camera, as well as make a test call to an automated service to ensure the video and audio quality are to your satisfaction.

More information about how to use Teams is available here.

More information about how to use Zoom is available here.

  1. Video is important.

Turn on your camera, without exception, even if you are the only participant in the meeting with your camera on.  Effective communication isn’t only about what you say.  There are plenty of visual queues which can make or break an effective conversation.  Very few people would care if you did your hair or not this morning, but many people will feel slighted when trying to have a conversation with someone who cannot look them in the eye.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this article by none other than the video conferencing grandaddy WebEx – For effective team collaboration, turn your video on (the data says so)

  1. The mute button is your friend.

Develop a habit of keeping yourself muted when you are not speaking and of course remembering to unmute when you do wish to speak.  This is less important in a more intimate meeting with only a small group of people, but in large groups it’s far too easy for a barking dog, noisy child, or police siren in the background to derail the conversation or focus of discussion.

  1. Be careful with screen sharing!

Screen sharing can be INCREDIBLY useful; however, you do need to remember that when you are sharing your screen, attendees can see everything on your screen, not just the one document that YOU are focused on.

  • Share only the application you’re working with rather than the whole screen when possible.
  • If you are going to be working in multiple applications during your screen sharing session and as such want to share the entire screen, consider closing any applications or browser tabs which are not relevant to the discussion before initiating the screen share.
  • Additionally, when sharing the whole screen, notifications should be silenced to avoid anyone catching a glimpse of potentially sensitive information they have no business seeing.
  • If your desktop is a cluttered mess of icons, or you have questionable taste in desktop wallpaper, maybe consider cleaning that up before airing your shame for the world to see.
  • If you have more than one monitor, consider sharing a screen other than your primary monitor, so that notifications that cannot be silenced will not be presented to everyone.
  • Do not start browsing through your emails or chat history when your have a screen sharing session open.  It shows your lack of attention to the discussion at hand, and you could be inadvertently sharing sensitive information as well.
  • Do not under any circumstances open documents containing lists of passwords (to be honest, you should not have any of these in the first place…)

That’s it!  Hopefully, this guide gives you something to think about the next time you join a virtual meeting and through the application of these rules you improve the virtual meeting experience for both yourself and all attendees!

Do you have any suggestions or tips to improve the quality of a virtual meeting?  I would love to hear about them and will absolutely include any useful tips into future revisions of this guide!

Stephen Gladio

Cloud and Internal Systems Manager

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