If you rev up GoToMeeting on a regular basis or communicate with coworkers and clients via Skype, this blog post may be for you. A virtual meeting is no less formal than a face-to-face meeting and should be treated as such. Here are some tips to consider next time you turn on the webcam at work.
Check your background. If you’re a professional, you probably don’t need to be told to remove anything offensive from your background, but anything distracting goes as well. Do you have something flashing in the background or people walking around? Try to angle your webcam away from whatever might be moving in the background so that you are shown against as clear and as tidy a background as possible.
Know your technology. We often tell candidates participating in virtual interviews to check their webcam and microphone technology as well as their Internet connection. It doesn’t hurt to do the same for a virtual meeting, especially if you rarely conduct them.
Dress appropriately. At AgCareers.com, we have several employees who work from a home office. I have noted that every one of them that I have had a virtual meeting with have always dressed professionally, even if they are in sweats every other day of the week. A meeting is a meeting. Be considerate and conservative with your dress choice. And remember to comb your hair.
Do your best to be on time. If everyone is connecting at a set time, don’t keep the group waiting. A virtual meeting is best conducted when everyone is present to hear all the details. Extend the utmost courtesy by logging in at the agreed upon time.
Set aside distractions. Put your cell phone on silent and take notes via a pen and paper rather than the keyboard. These noises are distracting to other meeting attendees. Your fellow attendees will be able to tell if you’re working on something else.
Eat lunch before the meeting. Don’t bring food to a virtual meeting. This is also a distraction to everyone involved.
Clear your desktop. If you need to share your screen during the meeting or if you are the meeting presenter, be sure to close all other tabs and silence email and IM. Present a fully focused presentation.
Be loud & clear. Announce yourself when you first join a virtual meeting, even if everyone can see that you’ve arrived. When you have something to say, speak up so that everyone can hear you. Just don’t talk over anyone else. While this can be frustrating to wait your turn, motion that you have something to say with your hand and speak when possible. On this note, be sure to include everyone if you are the presenter. Ask your attendees if they have anything to add before wrapping agenda items up.
Mute your line. When not speaking, mute your microphone or the phone you are using. This cuts back on background noise.
Remain fully present & engaged. We’ve gone over distractions to be aware of, but simply staying seated and engaged is of high importance as well. Try not to rock or jitter with your hands during the meeting. Show that you are listening at all times. If leaving is necessary during the meeting, do so discreetly.
On a final note, you may work in an office setting where only one or two employees need to be conferenced in during a virtual meeting. It can be disheartening to those employees not physically present to see other attendees enjoying camaraderie. Remember to be inclusive of everyone involved, even when it comes to small talk.
Being polite extends to all communications in business. Check out this article on conference call etiquette.
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