Virtual conference calls, while they have been around for years, have never been as popular as they are now thanks to the recent coronavirus pandemic. These online meetings have become the new standard for group communication and while there are plenty of applications available and features to use, if you aren’t familiar with them you may have some trouble getting started. To help you stay ahead of the curve, we decided to write up a few helpful tips for having better virtual meetings in an effort to make your life easier in this trying time.
Organize your setup
If you have already taken part in an online conference call then chances are that someone in said call, maybe even you, has kicked things off with technical difficulties or at the very least has experienced some kind distractions while the meeting was in session. To avoid these, be sure to thoroughly check everything noted below.
Your internet connection is essential to your online meeting since it is the backbone of how you send and receive video and audio. You want to ideally have a hardwired connection to your router but, in the event that this is not possible, try to sit somewhere that has a line of sight to it instead. The fewer objects that are between you and your router, the better connection you will get over WiFi. If you live with other people, it is also a good idea to ask them to refrain from streaming videos or downloading anything while you are in your meeting.
Camera and Lighting
Your camera and lighting can be easily checked by searching for your camera in your start menu, this will bring up a preview of what everyone else will see and will allow you to find the best spot available. If possible, try to use natural light as well as lamps and you may also want to consider using a Zoom green screen to hide anything behind you if you have sensitive information on the show, if you are prone to having people walk past, or even if you just have an untidy room and don’t want to clean up before you go live.
Microphone and Audio
Next, you will need to test your microphone. Most laptops come with a microphone built-in but even if you have one we suggest that you use an external pair of headphones that have a microphone attached, like phone headphones. This will bring the microphone closer to your mouth and away from the laptop fans, making you clearer overall, and the headphones will stop any echoes from being fed back into the call for everyone else to hear.
Make an agenda
A meeting agenda is useful at the best of times and is almost essential in the current situation. Virtual conference calls have an increased risk of being sidetracked and distracted, a written agenda will help to keep everyone focused and will ensure that you cover everything you planned to before the meeting ends. Your agenda can be time-sensitive but that is entirely up to you, what is important is that it includes the following information.
- Why you’re having the meeting
- The things you want to discuss
- What you hope to achieve by the end of the meeting
Use the technology you have available
In addition to virtual backgrounds, online meetings also have plenty of other features available to help make your life easier. For example, you can use screen sharing to quickly and effectively share either your entire screen or just a single application to whichever participants you choose. You can also use virtual whiteboards much like their physical counterparts, to brainstorm ideas, and discuss topics.
Record your meetings
The final feature available in virtual meetings that we will be covering is the ability to record any meeting you choose. While this may not be a great idea for meetings where privacy is key, but for everyday catch ups and team meetings, having a recording can be incredibly useful. It allows for far easier note taking, and if any member of your team is unable to attend the meeting in question, they can easily catch up on everything they missed simply by watching the replay.