Remote meetings have become the new normal. The process seems straightforward at first glance, but after a few missteps you might feel the need to implement certain good practices before an upcoming meeting with a major partner, financers, your team, or perhaps new clients… Here are the main lines to develop. To your keyboards!
Create the right conditions
That’s right, preparing for a video meeting is not only about knowing what you will say! Give some thought to the environment the meeting will be taking place in:
- Background: you will likely be at home, but that’s no reason for the person on the other end to be looking at your holiday photos or a messy living room… scan your home for the best setting: a plain wall with nothing to distract the other person/people in the meeting.
- Lighting: good lighting doesn’t require professional equipment! Just make sure the other person can see you properly, it makes it easier to talk. Ideally, you should avoid having a light source behind you or coming from the side. For a daytime meeting, think about sun movement. In the evening, soft lighting is best. Do a trial run before the meeting begins.
- Interruptions: to the greatest possible extent, find a calm area where you will be able to talk without being interrupted by background noises (doorbell, construction work on the street, your washing machine on spin cycle, etc.) or unexpected entrances of the other members of your household! A “do not disturb” sign on the door can help.
- If the meeting is expected to last, be sure to find a comfortable chair so you don’t lose focus shifting around in your seat. And sorry to say, but sinking into your couch is not an option!
Having good reflexes
When you’re about to have a conversation, even remotely, there are a few essential items to keep in mind to ease discussions:
- It’s more comfortable to talk to someone who is not too close, nor too far: the ideal distance for your webcam should show you from head to shoulder.
- Your camera should be at eye height to keep the other person’s attention, like in a real-life meeting. If need be, raise your computer or phone to your height… and make sure the “platform” is sturdy 😉 For those of you who use a double screen, keep the conversation on the right one, the one who’s camera is activated.
- Like for any other meeting, turn off notifications on your computer and phone! This helps avoid untimely noises, and the potential embarrassment of having private messages pop up on your screen…
- And let me break this myth: YES, we can tell when you’re doing something else during a meeting, even if you don’t think we can! Show respect for the person on the other end and save your other tasks for later in the day.
- If there are several people speaking in the meeting, turn off your mic when you’re not talking to avoid interferences.
- Keep your good practices from conventional meetings too: prepare the items you wish to discuss upstream, be on time, introduce yourself proactively if you don’t know everyone in the meeting, have a pen and paper on hand for notes, keep a bottle of water nearby in case the meeting takes longer than expected, send out a report if necessary, etc.
Test your material
It might seem obvious, but not for everyone… How many times have you signed onto an online meeting only to realize someone’s mic isn’t working, or someone hasn’t managed to connect? Take a few minutes to check your equipment, you can even start a mock meeting with a friend if need be. They will probably be even more demanding!
Is your Wi-Fi strong enough? Are your microphone settings right? Is there enough volume? An echo? Are you more comfortable using a headset? If you plan to show files, do you know how to share them? Do they open properly in the app? Etc.
Be proactive, have a Plan B: if your internet crashes, where can you find Wi-Fi (a nearby café, maybe)? If the app suddenly becomes unavailable, what are the alternatives? If docs don’t show on some people’s screens, can you send them by email? Etc. Thinking about these things upstream can avoid stressing if such a situation arises and showcase your risk management skills to other participants.
Once you’ve made all the necessary checks and adjustments, I highly recommend jotting them down somewhere so you can run quickly through the steps in case of an impromptu meeting! Having everything under control will score you points, even if you don’t know it.
I hope these pointers will help you sign onto your next remote meetings well prepared and with peace of mind!
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