I’m delighted to have worked with Diana Ecker from Redbooth to bring you this sponsored article on how to make virtual meetings easier.
Even though we may take them for granted, virtual meetings are a dazzling concept. You bring together people who are working from home, on the road for travel, or in offices around the world with just a few clicks. It frees you up to work with clients, contractors, and teams from anywhere at all.
Of course, virtual meetings come with their own challenges as well. In her video 5 Tips for Virtual Meetings, Elizabeth Harrin tackles the essential issues surrounding effective virtual meetings. For example, does everyone on the meeting actually know how to use the web conferencing software?
Even when you’re hosting virtual team meetings on a daily basis, there’s often still room to optimize. Here are 4 quick and easy tips — each one requires just a minute or two, or even less. But each one can reduce common sources of aggravation and help you lead more effective, efficient virtual meetings.
1. Banish background noise
Of course, you want to hear your clients and colleagues (at least most of the time!). But with sensitive microphones, incidental noises — a dog barking in the background, traffic outside, other people talking — can distract everyone on the meeting.
One of the most common offenders seems innocuous at first: typing! The sound of someone hitting the keys hard can get picked up by a microphone and drive everyone else on the call mad. (I’ve seen it happen more than a few times.)
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: Most video conferencing software includes an easy way for people to mute themselves or for the host to mute them. As a meeting leader, you can proactively address this at the beginning of a meeting, welcoming participants to make use of the mute function and explaining how to use it.
If you are using meeting transcription software, it’s even more important to make sure there isn’t background noise.
2. Prevent an accidental reveal
If there’s any chance that you’ll be sharing your screen during the meeting, this tip is for you. Screen sharing is an invaluable tool for making sure everyone is on the same page — it’s ideal for walking everyone through a spreadsheet or presentation slides.
However, even with excellent screen sharing capabilities, it’s easy to accidentally share the wrong window on your computer. Before you know it, you’re broadcasting a family photo, a confidential document, or a rough draft that isn’t ready to share.
3. See and be seen
The face-to-face aspect of video conferencing is what makes it so immediate and engaging. You can see expressions (and even micro-expressions, if you’re fast enough!).
The flip side of this is that you’re responsible for making sure that your face is clearly visible and well-lit on the screen as well. If you’re in the shadows — which most commonly happens when you sit with a bright light or window behind you — you can see other people’s expressions, but they can’t see yours.
This issue isn’t trivial. In fact, it can create an ongoing source of tension in a virtual meeting.
4. Don’t let participants languish
If you’re the meeting host and you’re having a busy day, it’s easy to run late….and forget about the participants on the call. When you pop on 5, 10, or 15 minutes late, it’s common to say, “Sorry, folks — let’s get started!”
However, everyone who has been waiting and watching a spinning wheel, a loading icon, or whatever your video conferencing software displays is now feeling frustrated. Unless you’ve got an unusually happy-go-lucky group on the call, you now have to take on that frustration in addition to the original goals of the meeting.
Small Tips, Big Payoff
The experience of participants on a virtual meeting can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the meeting itself.
Taking just a bit of time to manage that experience — from reducing background noise to making sure that no one sits and waits (and waits, and waits) — can pay off for you and for everyone in the meeting.
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