6 Best Practices for Virtual Meetings
March 27, 2020
As we rapidly transition our teams to a virtual way of conducting business, adopting new technology is not a luxury, but a necessity. It’s important to know how to put our best foot forward when navigating the world of virtual meetings.
We’ve put together 6 best practices that will help you adapt to this new form of communication. These tips will help serve you in preparation for client, team, and other meetings you may attend now and in the future.
Be aware of your background.
If you’re not used to working in a remote environment, you may not realize that what’s behind you really matters. There may be things in your background that are distracting. This is especially important when you’re in a main room of your house with partners, kids, and pets walking around behind you.
We suggest you try to minimize distraction by setting up in a room that’s out of the way, has a door to reduce noise, and does not have a lot of traffic.
You can also make use of a virtual background if your meeting application has that capability. Create an image that is branded with your company logo and display it behind you. This will take away any distractions in the background and allow your meeting to stay professional and on topic.
Camera height and positioning.
It may be tempting to set up your laptop or webcam on any surface when preparing for your next meeting. If you’re not careful, this could impact the impression you have on a client or meeting attendee. It’s important to check the camera angle whenever you change locations for a virtual meeting.
If your camera is set too high, above eye level, it will give the illusion that people are looking down at you. If your camera is set too low, along with being a very unflattering angle, it could make an attendee feel that you are talking down to them. This has the potential to unintentionally change the mood and feel of a meeting.
To combat this, always make sure to set the camera at eye level. This will ensure you are sitting on an even plane with whoever you’re meeting with and will put them at ease through the conversation.
Minimize background noise.
Now, this is a tricky one, especially if you currently have a household full of kids or others who will no doubt make some noise at an inopportune time. If you can, make sure to situate yourself in a quiet place within your home, preferably a room that has a door to buffer any outside noise. You can also use headphones that have a built-in microphone. Typically, these microphones will pick up your voice only and reduce anything a laptop speaker may pick up easily.
Another way to ensure that you’re not disrupting the call with any outside noise is to mute your microphone. This can be done directly through the meeting platform or your headphones may have a mute button. This will help keep the call on-topic and not distract speakers.
You also should be mindful that currently, people may have background noise they normally wouldn’t have. It’s important to have grace for those you’re meeting with and realize that some things may not be in their control in this climate.
Adjusting the lighting for a virtual meeting can be difficult. It can be frustrating when you’re trying to put your best foot forward and just cannot get the lighting to cooperate. The best practice is to set up so that you have a room with bright windows and a wall behind you.
You may not have access to perfect lighting, so there are a couple of tricks to getting it just right. If there is a window behind you, make sure you also have light behind the webcam and in front of you. This will help balance the “halo effect” that can happen with a bright light behind you. You also don’t want too bright of light in front of you. This could wash out your skin and your facial features.
Always have a backup.
When using any type of technology, it’s good to have a backup option. Due to an overwhelming number of companies transitioning to online platforms, there may be a breakdown in quality. It’s recommended that you have a second meeting app to switch to if your primary one is not functioning properly.
Keep this in mind for hardware as well. By this, we mean your headphones or the actual device you’re using to connect to the call. Most platforms have an app that can be used on your smartphone or tablet. Make sure to download the app and login, so that you’re able to start or continue a call if your laptop or desktop computer is not functioning correctly.
Don’t forget that people can see you!
Always assume that you’re on camera and that you are unmuted. Everyone’s heard of the one person on a large call that forgets they’re in front of the camera and decides to pick their nose, make a face, doze off… you name it. This applies even if you believe your camera and microphone are off.
To keep from making any mistakes, try your best to be engaged, take notes, and ask questions. This will let the presenter know that you care about their topic, but it will also keep you engaged and out of trouble.