Gone, but at least somewhere in sight, are the meetings where you and your colleagues were huddled up in a meeting room or at someone’s desk to go over projects, presentations, or paperwork. We used to have virtual meetings in the “before” times as well, however the difference is quite stark.
Now for a lot of us EVERY meeting is online.
For a majority of us office workers, this is a different ball game, bringing with it a whole new set of rules and general guidelines to follow. That is, if you want to make sure that the next time you do meet again in person with your peers, they’ll still want to have a coffee break with you. They’re fairly easy to implement in any conditions, they make all of us more focused and make the most of our time.
If you’re the person organizing the meeting, first of all make sure the event is Private and share the meeting link only with the people attending. This will limit access to potential Internet trolls or other types of disruption. You have other security options as well in many of the collaboration tools we use, such as setting a password for the event.
Maintain the same best practices as you would for an in person meeting – share an agenda with the attendees, limit distractions (like pop up notifications) and yes, by all means talk to your colleagues about tangent subjects. However, try to be respectful of everyone’s time since all have the same hours in a day and many priorities waiting for our attention. It can be slightly easier to go off on a tangent for too long, when we’re working from home.
Mute yourself as best as you can when you’re in an online meeting with many people or especially in a training/webinar, so that you minimize background noise that could come from outside your designated work space (ie. construction work outside, etc.). Also be mindful if you’re not muted to avoid activities that could create a disturbance – arranging documents, typing frantically, etc.
If you need to share content during a meeting, make sure you have everything prepared before – your files, links or anything you need. And if you are also the host, you might need to manage the screen sharing preferences so that you grant access for sharing if your colleagues/clients need to present something. This will depend on the tool you are using, Zoom in particular has this feature that you need to keep in mind.
Your background should be professional and clear, so that people can focus as much as possible on you and not on your background. And of course, there might be situations where you can’t have a clear, clean background behind you. In this case, depending on the meeting software – you can find options for backgrounds and choose one to your liking.
Having an agenda will help every meeting be productive for everyone involved, but even so, if it’s a longer meeting make sure you take breaks as well. It’s hard to stay focused on a single activity for a long period of time and it ends up being counter productive to want to finish something in one go.
How many times in the last year have you interrupted someone because you thought they finished speaking? I know, us too. Dozens of times. Until you get used to the fact that internet connections are great but sometimes can lag or experience other issues. Keep this in mind and give it a second before you start speaking. You’ll see a world of difference.
By following these steps, you will be more focused in your meetings, prepared and you will be saving you and your colleagues time which is always amazing.
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