A summary of 2 Forbes articles entitled, “12 Tips for Making Your Virtual Meetings More Professional” and “5 Things Leaders Never Do in a Zoom Meeting”.
Although virtual meetings are the new norm, we’ve all attended ones that have gone awry. By taking them as seriously and thoughtfully as physical, in-person meetings, you can use them as a way to be known as someone who’s digitally-savvy and professional—qualities your clients and colleagues will value. The following are some practical tips on being professional when you’re “meeting” someone virtually.
- Participate from a quiet place. A carpeted, furnished room where you can close the door or be alone is the ideal place for a virtual meeting.
- Use a neutral background. While professional-looking plants, bookcases, or picture frames in your background aren’t necessarily a problem, the safest approach is to simply have a neutral-colored wall in the background. Another option is to use a professional virtual background.
- Create good lighting. Ensure your desk has a strong but soft light that can illuminate your face during your video conference.
- Use a good microphone. Use the earphones that come with your cell phone to create a more intimate, conversational sound profile.
- Test the technology. While you can’t completely avoid technical issues from occurring, you can reduce the likelihood of technical surprises by taking the time to test your web conferencing application well in advance of your virtual meeting or interview. Upon first use, many programs like Microsoft Teams or Zoom need you to explicitly grant screen sharing, audio access, and webcam permissions to the programs that involve restarting the program and/or your system. You’ll want to do these activities in advance.
- Raise your webcam to eye-level. Ensure your webcam is at eye level so your image will look more natural, as if you were both sitting across from each other at the same table. The easiest way to do this with a laptop is to simply put it on top of a box.
- Position your conference window near your camera. Make the conference application small and position it adjacent to your computer’s camera. This way, when you look at the video image of the person you’re talking to within the application, your gaze will not seem pointed toward a completely different direction.
- Dress the part. Dress as you would if you were meeting the other participant(s) in person. That goes for your bottoms too. Even if those comfy jogging pants aren’t visible on screen, they affect how you feel which affects how you speak and interact.
- Turn off notifications. While you may think you’re able to just ignore them, notifications are specifically designed to disrupt your attention. Worse, if you’re screen sharing, you probably don’t want everyone to see that your partner is on their way to the grocery store.
- Avoid multitasking. Being fully present in every single meeting is difficult, especially those you feel aren’t necessary. However, for those meetings that truly matter, you should force yourself to focus on what’s being said, as if you were there in person. Anything you do that isn’t related to the meeting itself will prevent you from fully participating and absorbing the content.
- Be careful not to talk too much. When using digital communication platforms, you may not recognize the subtle, physical cues that help people to know when they can begin talking without talking over someone. Pause for a couple of seconds to let participants know that you have finished your thought or your slide. Also ensure others are heard.
- Avoid keeping your microphone on. No one needs to hear your dog barking. Unlike with physical meetings, this is your opportunity to mute these sounds and spare others the distraction.
- Don’t invite too many people to the meeting. Because it may be easier for more people to participate in a virtual meeting than attend an in-person meeting, it may be tempting to invite a lot of people. But too many people can render the discussion ineffective.