The snafus that come with using new technology should be occasional and not your typical performance! What might have been laughed at six months ago may now be annoying to your peers. Whether you are a presenter or an attendee, today is a great day to start mastering the skills to participate in online meetings successfully. Whether you are using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, or another online meeting platform for business, you should follow basic online etiquette rules to be the most successful.
Here are our top suggestions:
Basic isn’t Bad: At this point, we will breeze past the basics of showering, shaving, and good personal hygiene and talk about elevating your appearance online. Yes, you should always wear pants, real pants. And equally important, consider paring those pants with a plain, solid-colored top. Stripes, patterns, or anything busy can be very distracting and cause your peers to focus on your clothes versus your contribution to the meeting discussion. Keep it neutral. When it comes to your background, the same rules apply. Using filters and turning yourself into a potato is fun, but if you want to stand out based on your merit, basic backgrounds are best. Experts suggest a minimalistic feel to the view that your colleagues will see. A bookcase, picture, or shelf isn’t wrong, but basic is best. If you choose to have these items in view, make sure that everything is tidy. A solid color wall takes the focus off of your background and allows your colleagues to remain focused on you.
Framing: The general rule for online meetings is to frame yourself so that your head and the top of your shoulders dominate the screen. If you are using a widescreen view, it tends to distort your image if you are too close to your camera. If you can’t change it, simply back up. On the flip side, Zoom meetings are not like taking a “selfie” where an above angle seems most flattering. Looking up and into your nostrils is not a good look for anyone so position your camera accordingly. Online, eye to eye connection is best. Direct eye contact with your camera is where your eyes should line up. If they don’t, raise your laptop or computer until they do. As tricky as it may seem to speak into the camera versus looking at your colleagues, it provides the most engaging experience. A key tip is to put a mirror behind your camera to help minimize the feeling of speaking into the black dot or camera. This takes practice! Learn to engage by listening versus looking.
Lighting: Find the most flattering light. You should have one steady lamp directly by your face, not from above or the side. This light should also be near your camera. You can also take advantage of natural light by facing a window but, stay clear of windows behind you. When your back is toward a window, the camera will expose the light and turn you into a silhouette.
Video: Now that you are camera-ready, it’s time to turn on your video. When on camera, keep in mind that you are always on camera. If you need to do something like grab a cup of coffee, sneeze or anything distracting, you should turn off your camera until you are ready to go live again. Video allows for the best engagement but only use it when you are prepared to go live! Train yourself to use your video and act like it is always on. This way, you will be ready to stop your video when you need to.
Mute: You should always be on mute unless you are speaking. No exceptions. Even if you believe that the room you are in is quiet and you don’t have a dog that could bark in the background, mute is best. The hum of your computer, the clicking of your keyboard, or the fan in the background may sound louder online and distract attendees and the presenter. When you are speaking, the same rules apply as if you were conversing face-to-face with someone. Be conscious of your cadence, tone, inflection, and the volume at which you speak. If you need to invest in a microphone, there are many options available in all price ranges.
Participation: Your ability to engage with your peers will be evident in your participation. People can tell if you are multitasking and not paying attention. Treat your online meetings the same as if you were all sitting around the conference table. You wouldn’t check your email there, so don’t do it here. Put your cellphone out of sight and focus on the topic at hand. When using the chat feature, keep in mind that the chat notes are often saved and shared with others to track key information and share ideas from the meeting. Chat IS a great place to link to articles, documents, or publications that you reference and would like others to view. When sharing your screen with the team, it is critical to minimize all other windows, turn off and sign out of any other programs before going live. Be prepared with each document readily accessible. Leave no room for error when it comes to notifications and pop-ups on-screen during your time to share.
While you cannot prepare for everything when meeting in a remote environment, there is a lot that you do have control over. Make your best moves to increase your appearance, presentation, and participation. When the occasional snafu occurs, you will be grateful it wasn’t at your expense.
April Eskelson, Director of Instructional Design
November 11, 2020
April Eskelson is the Director of Instructional Design at Jacaruso Enterprises, Inc. Jacaruso provides remote hotel sales service and eLearning to over 800 hotels in the US, Canada, Mexico and Latin America. To learn more, visit: https://jacaruso.com/online-hotel-sales-training/