Online Meetings January’21

Best Practices for Online Meetings

Karen Heisz, and Regina Antonio

“Smile for the camera!”
That used to be the go-to phrase when we were posing for our photo, but, in today’s world, we are smiling for web cameras and other devices as we navigate the many virtual meeting platforms to connect with work colleagues, family and friends.
A brief search of “online etiquette” yields advice from many experts; let me save you the time and list our top ten etiquette suggestions here:

10. Know the technology. Join a test meeting or check your audio and video settings to ensure that your camera and microphone are working correctly. Plug in your device if there is any concern that your battery will not last the length of the meeting.
Ensure you are using a reliable, high-speed internet connection to avoid lagging or freezing.

9. Minimize interruptions. Cats and babies do provide conversation starters, but you should do your best to attend the meeting in a quiet place with a locked door. Remember to turn off all notifications on your devices, too, to avoid distractions.

8. Tidy up your background. What are people going to see besides you? Make the bed, tidy the room, and make your background as impersonal as possible. Virtual backgrounds can be helpful, but understand that you can appear distorted if you tend to move a lot.

7. Dress as though you are meeting in person. It might be tempting to work in your pyjamas, but our choice of clothes has an impact on our motivation and our confidence. Dress according to the image you wish to convey.

6. Giving a presentation? Practice! If you are giving a presentation for work or school, practice giving it to family or friends. Develop your competence in sharing screens, advancing slides, asking and answering questions, etc., before the presentation. Become very comfortable with the capabilities of the meeting platform so that you are confident and prepared.

5. Put your notes in the right place. Write key words on sticky notes and attach the sticky notes beside your device’s camera. This way, you will still look like you are speaking to your audience when you refer to your notes.

4. Use the Chat feature to ask questions, provide answers, obtain feedback, and engage your audience.

3. Check your lighting. Position the source of light in front of you, whether it is a window or a diffused light from a lamp. When the lighting is behind you, your face is shadowed, or, worse, you appear as a dark blob to your audience.

2. Place your camera at eye level. It is not helpful to your audience to see your forehead and your ceiling, or for you to be so far away that they can’t read your facial expressions. Angle your camera so that your head and upper body/shoulders are visible. You may need to place your laptop on a book or other platform to achieve this.

1. Make eye contact with your audience. Look directly at your camera rather than at the images of your audience or yourself. Smile and relax. This is the best we can do right now.
We hope that these tips help you to feel more confident and prepared for your next virtual meeting, whether it is with your boss or your grandchildren. Remember – we are all learning together! Stay well.
For more information