Since 2020 began, the world has been thrust into new challenges appearing one after the other. The most notable of which has been the recent COVID-19 pandemic that has forced corporations and companies around the world to shut their offices and instead have their employees working from home. With employees at home, physical meetings have been replaced with virtual conference calls which, while fairly straight forward and great ways to communicate, can take a while to get used to. Since we doubt that you want to be the one in the call that comes in with technical issues or is interrupted mid-way through, here are a few tips to keep in mind for your next business meeting.
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In the past, if you had ever attended a virtual meeting then it was likely from the comfort of an office conference room that your IT team had kindly set up for you, taking the hard work out of your way and into their capable hands. Unfortunately, since you probably do not have a personal IT worker, the responsibility of setting everything up now falls to you. Don’t fret though, it really is quite simple, and as long as you keep in mind the following things you shouldn’t experience any issues.
If you are fortunate enough to have a home office, you may still find that it is not the best place to get an internet connection. Ideally, you want a hard-wired connection with an ethernet cable or at least a line of sight with your router. If you find that your usual workspace receives poor internet speeds, you will have to move, at least while you attend meetings. Poor speeds will cause delays, poor image, and poor audio for you as well as affecting your output for everyone else in the call. If you live with other people, it may also be a good idea to ask that they refrain from downloading anything or streaming video for the duration of your meeting.
Most laptops have built-in microphones and that leads people to believe that they don’t need to worry about their audio. Unfortunately, these built-in microphones will often be of poor quality and can even pick up the noise of your laptop’s fans while in use. It is best to use a pair of headphones and an external microphone if possible. The external microphone will provide far better sound quality, and the headphones will not only make it easier for you to hear but will also prevent echoes from being fed back through your microphone and into the call.
Just like with the microphone, most laptops have a built-in webcam, unlike the built-in microphone, however, the webcam should be fine for your meeting as long as you pay attention to your lighting. Ideally, you want to use natural light but if that is not available, open up the camera app on your device and test out a few different areas to make sure that you can be seen clearly without being shrouded in shadow. You should also avoid having a light source visible on camera as that will make the rest of the image darker automatically.
A great thing about virtual meetings is that there are plenty of tools and features available to make your life easier. One of the most useful tools we have found is the ability to change your background without the need for a physical green screen. There are plenty of great virtual backgrounds out there and they can be used to hide a messy house, to keep distractions like kids and pets out of view, or even to hide sensitive information that may otherwise be on show. Other available tools include things like screen sharing and virtual whiteboards, both of which make it much easier to share and discuss information and ideas.
Finally, one of the most underused and underappreciated things you can do with virtual meetings is to record them. While this is a great alternative to tedious note-taking, it is especially useful for people who have other responsibilities such as child care for example. Having a recording of what was said allows them to easily stay up to date on current events without any loss of information or potential errors.
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