Virtual meetings have become the norm what with the majority shying away from personal meetings, except for a beer or fun. Product demos, reporting, status calls are happening all over and many people have back to back meetings. I don’t want to talk about the effectiveness of such meetings but I do want to share some pointers that MUST be followed when you are in a virtual meeting.
I put this list together after observing a lot of bad presentations, discussions and disgusting behaviour on virtual calls. So, whether you are on a go-to meeting, webex, zoom or cisco call, or you have a call coming up – please make sure you adhere to these rules and keep your conduct professional:
There are common items for all and then there are specific rules if you are a host / presenter / attendee participant.
- Please test your system at least 5 to 10 min before the meeting time. This includes your network connection, your computer, the microphone, speaker and any file / presentation / slide / video etc which you may be presenting.
- Remember that a fan and air-conditioner make noise so be sure that this will not disturb your speech.
- Keep your laptop and cellphone at a safe distance so they do not start screeching at each other.
- Make sure u have a good quality microphone and test it to check it doe not make any scratching or static nises which usually happen when the jack is loose or some wires are exposed.
- Test the audio volume to check that your voice is audible, not too loud and that your voice is clear without any disturbance
Code of Conduct
- Be on time. Rather be at least 5 minutes before time – this is the first most important rule for a virtual meeting.
- Second – do not keep others waiting for you. While starting the meeting, waiting for your team members to join, you trying to search for a file or something during the course of a meeting…. NO. In such a situation, ask for a rescheduling of the meeting, close it and come back.
- OK so your equipment is working and is in good condition, as well as being reliable.
- You are going to be talking or listening as a participant or, you may be talking and listening as a presenter.
- Use your name to identify yourself and not some gobbledygook handle. It makes u look like a fool and not smart!
- As you join the meeting, make sure you introduce yourself clearly (state your name, designation if needed and your company name)
- If you have a cold or are unwell, pop a pill and keep water and lozenges handy to keep your throat lubricated. Your voice should be clear and healthy, else stay away and allow someone else to present. No one likes to hear a faceless, gruff clearly unhealthy person (and obviously you will keep apologising all through about your bad health).
- Don’t breathe into your microphone. The sound of heavy breathing does not sound sexy and is very irritating.
- Go on mute when you are done speaking, unless u r in a sound proof room.
- As a presenter, do not go quiet!
- Silences are bad because the other party does not know if u r in or out. Or whether you are dead or alive or have you abandoned the presentation !
- If you need to search for something keep talking and communicating with the audience
- Engage with the audience and tell them why you have digressed or what is it that has stopped the presentation
- In short keep a sort of running commentary going
- It is very rude to keep silent because in this situation, the remote audience does not know whats your status and whether they should stay or go
- At times you may be in a virtual meeting and getting a dressing down from your senior – even in such a situation do not go silent. Apologise, ask to speak and present your point of view to help cool down the situation.
- If u r asked a question respond immediately which means you should have your finger on the unmute button and that you will react right away.
- Go prepared to a meeting.. read the agenda, study any documents which have to be discussed, keep ur questions and answers handy. If possible keep a printout of the documents.
- If u hv to make a presentation keep the file handy so u can recall it without any searching or fuss, maybe you
- The best option is to keep the file open
- Keep a notebook or laptop in hand to make notes.
- Do not start fiddling / working your phone and/ or laptop in a meeting as it tells other participants that you do not care.
- Keep your mic on mute until u hv to speak. Make sure you are clued into the discussion so that if a question is directed at you, you should respond immediately and not take time to unmute yourself.
- Be on time and don’t come in and go out at will. While it is a virtual meeting remember that people can be disturbed with entry / exit.
- During your presentation is you have to show a video make sure you keep talking during highlights in the video. Do not stay quiet and wait for the audience to watch it to the end silently. You should engage the audience by talking and explaining the video message while the video is playing.
- People usually expect the audience to quietly see the video and this while the meeting room is silent !
- Remember no one is in the same room and may be reacting differently – they need your voice to know you are there and explaining the context etc
- Of course, do not overwhelm the audience with your ‘inserted’ comments trying to make the video more interesting.
- During the course of your presentation, avoid continuously asking inane questions every now and then – “Am I audible now”, “Can everyone hear me” and try to keep the “umm’s”, “aa’s” and such fillers to the minimum.
- If you are presenting original content and framework etc say it up front.
- As a presenter make sure to acknowledge the sources where you have picked up graphics and content so as u do not violate any copyright or IPR.
- If you are unsure about the quality of your connectivity, make a joking comment about the same to warn the audience.
- Be on time…
- Test the meeting room connection etc in advance
- Make sure ur hardware (mic, laptop speaker, headphone etc) is good and does not make scratching and static noises. Also that your internet connection is reliable.
- Go back and read all the points again !!