In Coaching, Digitalisation, New Norm, People Process

Are you hung up on Hangouts, Zoom and Teams Meetings?

What to consider when attending an online meeting, after all, it did suddenly descended upon us.

How many video conferences do you have scheduled in the next few days? More than this time last year, and that’s putting it mildly.

Our meeting culture had to change enormously due to the pandemic. A considerable percentage of people now work remotely, and in many cases, it’s not possible to meet colleagues and partners in person. This new norm invades school classes, workshops, training, press conferences and even dates with friends, all virtual. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s most certainly a thing.

Online video conferences/webinars come with many advantages, unfortunately not all were prepared for the shift in behaviour or mindset. It’s fair to say we were blindsided and with that, unsure of ‘how to be’ in our new norm. Many learned on the fly, kinaesthetically, or not at all on how to show up for a Zoom meeting. If the host is new to it too, how do we know if we’re hitting the nail on the head and getting the most out of it?

In this article, we provide a few tips and recommendations for a successful virtual meeting with Zoom or any other online video platform. By the way,  some are born out of a few of the mistakes we made on the way. It’s all learning.

Technical Issues

1. Test your settings before you start

Be aware and comfortable with your video and audio settings. Prepare anything you wish to share before you start. The best way to do that is a test run, e.g. record yourself and play it back so you see what your colleagues etc see,  test your microphone and get familiar with all the features of your software. We’re ‘Zoomers’ and found this test run option:

2. Know the difference between a meeting and a webinar

A meeting in most cases is a collaborative event with all participants able to share screens, turn on video and audio and see all other attendees. That’s the typical set up for team meetings, ensure your camera is on.

A webinar is more a one-person-show when only the host(s) can speak and share his or her screen. Attendees can interact via chat and answering poll questions from the speakers. The host can also decide who’s muted and who’s not. That’s the typical set up for a webinar or a workshop.

Conclusion: Select settings ahead of the meeting. Decide what privileges are given to whom to avoid any technical issues or surprises.

Most important features to consider:

    • Mute/Unmute single attendees.
    • Screen sharing possibility for everybody
    • Use the chat option for messages or disabling private chat function (people can’t send private messages to other attendees)
    • Do you need waiting rooms or break-out-rooms?
    • Lock meeting, e.g. to avoid a meeting interruption by delayed people
    • Turning on/off file transfer to avoid spamming in the meeting chat

3. Meeting invitation

Be careful when you distribute your zoom meeting link. Anybody with access to it can attend the meeting if a password isn’t assigned. You’ve heard of the zoombombers out there, that includes trolls who share or post inappropriate or offensive material (“zoombombing”).

Conclusion: Make sure only invitees can attend your meeting. Best way to do this is to send a private invite with a password.


1. Turn on your video

So many people don’t like being in front of the camera and prefer to switch it off. We’re humans and need to connect with other humans, so turn it on. The question is, why don’t you turn on the camera? Are you sitting there in pyjamas, or having lunch or tuned in to your favourite TV show while in the meeting? Possible, probably or definitely? Which one are you? Seeing each other on video is crucial in building trust and engagement in virtual communications. Show yourself as you would in person as if in the office.

It’s also essential you have enough lighting, use an extra lamp and make sure the light is in front of you, not behind you. Beat the glare.

Conclusion: Present yourself no differently to an in-person meeting. Show you are focused, motivated and concentrated. Try to look into the camera and keep eye contact with the person you’re talking to even as unnatural as it feels to look down an inanimate object.

2. Be mindful of your background

Background noise isn’t always in your control, maybe your kids are around, or the doorbell rings. Just make sure you avoid everything which you can influence and try to set up meetings when you are not disturbed if possible. When in the meeting room, stay muted until you have something to contribute. When your microphone is on, avoid activities that could create additional noise, such as shuffling papers or snacking – ASMR is not that cool unless you’re my 9 or 11-year-old who thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread!

Your camera background view is equally important. There are many virtual options, so you don’t have to showcase where you are or clean up everything behind you before every meeting. Choose one of the free professional backgrounds, you don’t need a perfect office set up.

We found these for you – virtual backgrounds:

Conclusion: WFH doesn’t mean that we no longer have to be or maintain levels of professionalism. Think background and avoid any disturbing noises – when possible.

3. Stay focused and don’t forget everybody can hear and see you

People have shared funny stories of conference attendees who forgot they’re on camera. Don’t get caught out! Virtual could turn in to viral!

Conclusion:  Avoid multitasking and remain focused and don’t forget everybody can see and hear you. Just so you know, this isn’t a justification to turn off your camera.

General rules of courtesy

  1. Be prepared and be on time.
  2. Dress appropriately and present yourself as you would in person.
  3. Find an appropriate, quiet space for your meetings with as little disturbances as possible.
  4. Be mindful of lag time to avoid interrupting others
  5. Don’t multitask too much even though it’s tempting.
  6. Don’t eat during your online meetings.
  7. Refrain private behaviour like stretching and more.

Happy VCing!

➥ Next time we talk about hosting a meeting – everything you need to know to be a good host.

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think.

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