If you are an IT professional or even if you just work with computers regularly, you are probably more than used to using video conferencing software or teaching others how to use it. However, even if you have been using the software correctly, it is easy to develop bad habits or use poor etiquette that could be having a negative effect on your meetings without you even realising it.
Noticing and catching these problems before they get steadily worse will stop them from becoming recurring problems and prevent you from passing them on to others. Here are five key things to look out for in your next online meeting.
Eric Vidal said in The Meeting Magazine “If you would not do it in a face-to-face meeting, then do not even think about doing it during an online video event”. Of all the things to avoid at an in-person meeting, being late is the most crucial.
Most other blunders can be fixed, but not that one. It not only holds up the meeting but appears incredibly unprofessional before the meeting has even begun.
As such, be sure to arrive in plenty of time for virtual conferences so that you have time to make your introductions and check your computer’s specifications to ensure there are no technical problems. Since you won’t have traffic to worry about, there is virtually no excuse to being late for an online talk.
Be a wall flower
Connecting to people through a computer rather than in-person is more ideal for introverted people who feel pressured and stressed out during social situations. The down side, however, is that it is too easy for these people to stay quiet and go unnoticed during an online session.
If this happens to you, not only will this mean you won’t be contributing to projects, it means that people won’t consider you when it comes time for promotions or recommendations. While video conferencing may be nerve wracking at first, don’t let your fears get the better of you.
If you still feel anxious, use breathing exercises or keep a stress ball next to your desk to relieve your tension and try to contribute to the discussion at least once every ten minutes or so. The more you try, the easier it will become.
On the other end of the spectrum, with nobody physically in the room with you, it can become easy, particularly if you are the meeting host or particularly extroverted, to dominate the meeting and not allow anybody else to make their own input.
The whole point of a meeting is for everybody to bring their own ideas and issues to the table and discuss them together, not listen to one person droning on. If you find yourself speaking for too long, talking over others, or excluding anyone, apologize and let others have their turn. Your colleagues will appreciate you for it.
Fail to connect
Harvard Business Review says that the job of the meeting leader is to connect the people in the meeting, particularly if they don’t know each other, so that business can run productively. People will have a harder time working together and creating a quality output if they don’t connect with each other.
Thankfully, using a live video conference for IT departments with products like BlueJeans makes this easy. If you are leading the meeting, prepare and give time for everyone to make their contribution.
Everybody feels their mind wandering during meetings at times, particularly if they’ve just had a heavy meal or if they are watching a long presentation. Having discussions from your own home can make it tempting to walk away from the call.
Additional distractions such as online games, e-mail, and social media can make it even easier to take your attention away from the meeting. Once again, just as you wouldn’t do these things in a face-to-face meeting, don’t let yourself do them during a virtual meeting either.
Keep some water next to you to keep your mind focused. Turn off social media or any other distractions, using a timed website blocker if you have to. Save important e-mails for after the meeting (the sound of typing can be picked up easily by microphones and is incredibly distracting).
If you are hosting the meeting, try to keep it lively and engaged, perhaps by using video clips instead of a slideshow, and keep it as brief and short as possible so that everybody stays alert and focused.
Just as it would be in regular meetings, using common sense and basic etiquette is important for conducting successful online meetings, whether as a host or an attendant.
Developing these good habits and connecting well with others will make them run much smoother and improve regular work productivity and colleague relations at the same time.