Even though most of the UK workforce is working remotely, it’s great to hear that meetings haven’t suddenly just stopped – but they have changed. There are plenty of complications when connecting virtually, from finding the right space and lighting for a video call to ensuring the technology is working properly. Then there are interruptions you only get when you’re working from home: children, pets and family members popping into shot or starting a conversation with you mid-meeting.
There are plenty of quick ways that you can ensure you avoid the pitfalls of remote meetings. Here are a few we’ve found below:
Choose Your Time Wisely
Timing can be key. At peak times of day (9am, 10am, 2pm), it may be better to use less bandwidth and keep your webcam switched off. Scheduling meetings off the hour, for example at 10.10am, is a good idea as you’ll miss the peak infrastructure congestion times.
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
If you are using an online platform to hold your meeting, sharing a screen can be a great way to keep people engaged. If you do need to share your screen during a video call, take a few seconds to prepare before you hit that share button. Clear your desktop of any extra tabs or programs you may have open and make sure any private or sensitive information is hidden.
Just because a meeting is remote, it doesn’t have to be impersonal. Spending a few minutes at the beginning and end of a call for a bit of small talk sometimes really can be the part that keeps people motivated and engaged.
Find Your Etiquette Sweet Spot
Working from home constantly is a different prospect to that of being flexible to work from home. Etiquette is key, but also understanding the limitations of conferencing at home with added noise and drain on your connection from the kids’ devices. Productivity comes from having focused calls. It’s better to have a short call, go away and work on tasks, then come back for a catch up than it is to try and achieve tasks together as you go. The key thing is to keep on going.
Signal When You Want To Talk
During in-person meetings, you can pick up on visual cues to help find the right time to speak. It’s a lot easier to accidentally interrupt on a video call. Wait for a few moments of silence before speaking up in case there’s a sound delay.
If your company or team is going to have regular online meetings, it’s a good idea to decide on a system for asking questions, such as raising your hand or using chat to ask a question. If you’re running the meeting, it’s also helpful to call on people by name.
Speak clearly and watch how fast you speak (and don’t forget to unmute yourself!). But speak at your normal volume — there’s no need to shout, and if you do, your co-workers may lower their volume and then miss something else.
Be attentive and engaged during the call. As tempting as it is, try not to do any other work or read articles or send emails. (Don’t look at your phone and don’t eat!) Try to look into the camera when you talk. If you look at yourself or others on your screen, it may look like you’re looking at something else. When you’re not talking, make sure you’re paying attention to whoever’s speaking or sharing their screen and that you’re looking at any materials you may need to reference. (Again, others can see where you’re looking.)
Keep in mind that you’re more visible on video calls than in offline meetings, since you get to see close-ups of everyone’s face individually instead of a whole group of people at once. It’s often helpful to keep your own face visible on-screen, just as a reminder that you’re on camera, and so you can see what others are seeing.
So, if you feel like you’re struggling with your remote meetings, why not try out some of the tips above to improve how you feel about them? Good luck!