Staying Connected During Social Distancing: 3 Tips for Great Remote Meetings
2020 is off to a wild start! With the increasing spread of COVID-19, we are seeing unprecedented responses from educational institutions, corporations, and athletic organizations. With recent mandates and recommendations from State and local leaders to close public schools and the need to promote social distancing for the foreseeable future, we wanted to share some tips on how to stay connected with colleagues and associates if you will be working remotely.
If you aren’t in the habit of running or participating in virtual meetings, they can feel a bit intimidating. Our team has been meeting virtually for several years as we have grown into multiple offices and accommodate flexible work needs. We are always finding ways to improve the virtual experience and have learned a few things over the years that may help you get off the ground.
Nothing replaces face to face….but seeing your face is a pretty close second!
Using a web camera makes a conference call much more personal. Being able to actually see people makes you feel more connected than a voice-only call. So turn on that web camera and let people see you!
You may want to think about what the background of your video will look like before turning on the camera – if your back is facing a window and the sun is out, the brightness may make it hard for people to see you. Bonus points for tidying up, and double bonus points for a cute dog or baby sighting.
“Can you hear me now?”
Testing, testing, 1 2 3…. Test your microphone and speakers! Make sure that people can hear you (and that you can hear them!) before diving into the meeting agenda.
Computer microphones are notoriously bad for conference calls. Most video conference software allows the option of dialing in via phone instead of using the computer microphone. External microphones can also be plugged into USB ports on computers and the sound quality is generally much better with those types of devices.
Set some ground rules
Some of the best practices for video meetings are the same as for in-person meetings: only one person should talk at a time, avoid side conversations, and respect the meeting by not texting, checking email, or doing other work. Some tips that more specifically pertain to remote meetings include ensuring equitable time for screen sharing, saying someone’s name when you need to address them directly, and muting yourself when you are not talking.
Lastly, be sure to allow ample time to get connected the first time you use any new video conferencing software.
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