Back in early 2020, if someone had said we’d frequently be communicating with our customers and colleagues via video link, I would not have believed it.
It’s incredible to think how quickly we have all adapted. Whether it’s a business meeting, webinar, online training or even a family quiz we are all getting used to the technology, lingo and etiquette.
Yet there are so many do’s and don’ts about using the technology. So, I thought I would compile a list of guidelines to help you create the best online experience.
- The technology - Familiarise yourself with the technology before you start attending or hosting online meetings. Always check your settings beforehand. Confirm the camera lens is clean and ensure your camera and audio are working each time.
- Your working environment - People understand everyone is working in difficult situations. Yet, try and make your environment as quiet as possible (within reason). Keep your background tidy and clutter free to avoid distractions and maintain privacy. Lower the volume on your phone and switch off your email. Go on with your camera turnedon so people can see you. And if you participating in a large meeting, leave audio off to avoid unnecessary noise.
- Running the meeting - If you are the host, begin with both camera and audio switched on (everyone else on mute). And if you need any work carried out beforehand, send it in advance – just like you would for any other meeting. Begin by checking in with everyone and acknowledge the setting. Agree some ground rules. Outline the agenda and explain what’s expected from the group.
- Position of camera / laptop & lighting - Keep the camera at eye level or slightly higher. No one wants to see up your nostrils or even the top of your head. Find a spot where the window or light is in front of you, rather than behind you. Having a light facing you from the same direction as your camera is most flattering.
- Communicating online - Look directly at the camera rather than the screen – especially when talking or using a separate web-camera. Dress for your audience, keep your hands away from your face and always smile. Use a headset or microphone where possible and remember to unmute yourself when you want to talk.
- Making a great impression - Over 30% of our energy can be lost online so we need to speak clearly and be invigorating. Stand up or sit on the edge of your seat to have the right posture. Make your presentation about the audience. Keep your points brief and use short sentences. Inspire them using powerful words, alluring yet relevant short stories.
- Speaking up - To retain a certain level of normality and interaction, someone told me they encourage participations to unmute themselves and just say it, rather than send a message through chat. This makes complete sense for groups smaller than 10 people. For larger groups, the key is to raise one’s hand and then unmute themselves. However, for very large groups, chat or Q&A’s might be the best option.
- Managing interruptions - If you get interrupted, it’s okay to excuse yourself and step away for a moment. Switch off your audio (sometimes your camera) while you attend to the matter. If your internet goes down, try logging off and back on again.
- Encourage better participation - As the host, keep the meeting as interactive as possible. Tell people what’s happening as you share slides, organise polls or check other details. And for breakout rooms, give written instructions and warn people that the room will be closing soon. Work to an agenda and allow plenty of time for Q&A’s. And if you wish to record the session, tell everyone in advance and make sure you have permission.
The Spanish Artist, Salvador Dali once said, “have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it”. We’re living in strange times so it’s okay not to be perfect. However, if we try out some of these points, we’ll definitely do better.