Because of the coronavirus crisis, a majority of us will need to work from home. And as any veteran telecommuter will tell you, you will have to conduct a meeting with your team or your colleagues through a video conference call. While the technicalities of setting up a video conference may already user-friendly, there is still the issue of doing them properly, in proper etiquette. After all, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can slack, especially in these online video meetings. Here are some dos of video conference etiquette that you can do even before the meeting starts so that you can hopefully conduct them as effectively as possible.
Do: Have an Agenda
Doesn’t it irritate you when you attend a meeting where everybody just sits around, waiting for all attendees to be present, and then, when finally is already in the meeting, the person presiding the meeting takes a while to get things in order? At least in actual physical meetings, you can express your frustration to the meeting presider with facial expressions. With virtual meetings, it could be difficult to tell people to get on with the meeting and stop wasting time. Thus, meetings, whether actual or virtual, need to have an agenda. An outline of what the meeting is about and what topics will be discussed is necessary.
By providing staff with an agenda, attendees know what to expect, can guesstimate how long it will run, and, if there is an element of participation, will give them an opportunity to prepare talking points. “If you know you have people coming from other meetings, then maybe start the meeting five minutes after the start time,” said James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate, KnowBe4, who added, regarding agendas, “Include it in the meeting notice. Also, have it on a slide that is shared and readily available.”
Do: Have your tech ready
A lot of videoconference gets bogged down by connectivity issues, programs that suddenly freeze, or poor connectivity with some attendees. While they cannot be totally avoided, you can check on your hardware and whether your internet speeds are stable. If you foresee a problem with your internet connection during the meeting, then inform the attendees that you might be encountering issues later, and advise them of what to do when you might suddenly get kicked out of the meeting because you got disconnected. Better yet, ask for everybody’s permission to have the meeting recorded so that anyone who will have connectivity issues can listen or watch the recording later and still be updated on everything that was discussed.
Having everyone start on time is crucial to an effective videoconferencing meeting.
To avoid a last-minute scramble because of an unexpected app download or web browser permission process, make sure you have the correct meeting link, dial-in number, and app downloaded on your phone or computer ahead of time.
After download and setup, login to the app and make sure you can enter and exit the virtual meeting room without issue.
Do: Prepare your background
You may not have a home office and attending a videoconference with you in the kitchen that has pans and pots in your background can distract other attendees. Look for a bare wall in your house and make it the background of your makeshift “home office.” If it is impossible because your house is so decked out, then use the background features of your video conference platform. Microsoft Teams and Skype (that will give way to Microsoft Teams soon) allow video conferencing participants to blur their background, while Zoom allows users to choose a virtual background.
Start by trying to find a quiet, ‘reasonably vanilla’ environment, suggested Jonathan.
‘If you have the ability to create a working space away from the main hub of the home then so much the better,’ he said.
He added that some technologies allow you to blur the background but that can put strain on internet connection.
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