Meetings are defined as the act of coming together… or not so much lately, but we still need to meet virtually to work together on common tasks. The definition itself implies that others are involved. Here are some helpful tips to make sure that you’re being respectful to all involved in the meetings that you attend.
Before the Meeting
Before a meeting even takes place there are a few meeting faux pas that can drive fellow attendees crazy. Now, I know some people love reading 46 emails with everyone’s availability for a time to meet, but for the ease on email inboxes, check out doodle.com. It is a very user-friendly website and allow everyone to select availability without emailing the group repeatedly to find a time to meet.
If you are the one calling the group to meet, provide an agenda, send it in advance to the attendees so they can prepare and then stick to it during the meeting. If you notice an attendee is getting way off course, pull them back in. It’s your job to keep the meeting going and keep it on track.
Zoom fatigue is real. After many meetings people are exhausted. Decide in advance if it will be a cameras on or cameras off meeting. Not all meetings have to be video meetings, just because we aren’t together doesn’t mean that every meeting must be face to face. Decide in advance if seeing reactions of attendees will help advance the purpose. If not, give everyone a break and declare it is a video free meeting.
Make sure your connection is strong for video meetings. Dropping off and freezing can be avoided by making sure that you have a direct connection to the internet and/or making sure your kids aren’t all streaming movies at the same time in the house.
Come prepared and show up on time. If you know you’re going to be late, please advise the person that has called the meeting in advance. Then, when you do join, please don’t ask ‘what did I miss.’ Stick to the agenda. Don’t be the person that causes eye rolls when you hijack the meeting and take the conversation off topic.
I know many of us are working from home and the kitchen is close, but don’t turn video meetings into a cafeteria meeting. Eat before or after your meetings.
Before you log on, check your camera and make sure it’s where you want it pointed so you’re not adjusting it 10 times when the meeting starts. Tidy up behind you. If you must work in your bedroom, is your bed made behind you? Empty your trash can if it can be seen on camera, etc. Remember to put your microphone on mute when you’re not speaking as well. Just don’t forget to click the icon to turn it back on or hold the spacebar, when you’re speaking!
Tick, Tick, Tick, Bing, Shoo
Background noise can be particularly distracting. If your meeting is important. Make sure your family knows you need to be left alone and maybe let the dog outside.
Most important, put your phone away! Unless you’re reading your packet from the phone, put it in your purse or pocket. Do not leave it on the table face down and allow it to vibrate on the table during the meeting. It’s rude and distracting to others just as it would be if it happened during an in-person meeting. If you need to have your phone out for any reason, let the group know that you may need to step out to take a call in advance, and mute your computer when you do. In the same vein, don’t check your email during the meeting to see what you’re missing at the office!
It’s crazy, the person who designed the tablet designed a switch to make it silent! Use the silent switch. This goes for your cell phone and your email too. Turn them off during meetings. Don’t make your fellow meeting attendees listen to your email arriving, going, alerts, beeps and buzzes.
Presenting Your Best Self
Several highly noticeable things can draw a lot of negative attention to yourself during virtual meetings. Make sure you’re paying attention during the meetings. It can seem so easy because your email is right there, but focus on the task at hand.
Make sure you are put together. I know many of us are working from home, but still dress and pull yourself together before you hop on a video meeting. Make sure you’re well lit from the front (so no sitting in front of a window). Being lit from the back makes it very difficult to see your face.
Remember that meetings aren’t just about you. You are possibly being judged by some of your biggest critics; your clients, peers and customers. Follow these tips to stay on your best behavior at all times!
About Allison Beers
Allison has over 20 years in the meeting management industry. She has been featured in an article by the Huffington Post and is a regular writer for many industry publications. In 2016, Connect Magazine, a National Meeting Planning publication, named Beers to the top 40 under 40 leaders in the industry.