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Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Best Practices to Be the Best Virtual Meeting Participant

- Brad Gibson, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Active Production and Design 

Picture it: 2019. Video conferencing is pretty much reserved for when you can't physically be in the location of a meeting for various reasons. The platforms you used could be anything from FaceTime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. You haven't heard of some of them but ok, you have to download them so you can be at this meeting. You just have to hop on for a bit and your next meeting is likely going to be in person. These programs are not being utilized in your life enough to worry about the technology; your camera, your lighting, or your virtual appearance. Ahhh, it was a simpler time. Then… 2020 rolled around.  

Woah, that's a lot of people on a meeting!

Virtual conferences, meetings, and calls are life now. They are a standard and if you're like me, you have them several times a week. I've talked extensively on webinars and in other blog posts about our challenges with technology. Everyone has their own relationship with it. For some it's like a fish to water. And for others it's like a fish to a puddle. So, I want to specifically use this blog post to talk about best practices for your online meeting. From Setting it up, to looking your best, and making the most of the time you have. Let's get started.

Prepare for the meeting- Hopping on the call needs to not be your first time on the platform. At this point, we should all have a good working knowledge of the most popular platforms. If you're using a proprietary provided by the planner, it's understandable this can't always happen. So for today we're just talking about the platforms to which you have easy access.

1. Set up your equipment

  • Download the platform (Zoom, Teams, etc.) and get as comfortable as you can with the login process and joining process.
  • If you have them, a headset mic or external microphone ca help to reduce background noise
  • Test your Audio and Video on your own. Play around with it for the best look/sound if needed.
  • Review how to share your screen. There are several options on how to do this, and if you're going to need to do this in your meeting, give it a practice run. If you share the wrong screen the attendees may see emails you don't want them to see or your social media pages, or things that really are quite frankly none of their business.
  • If you do plan to screen share, close unnecessary tabs in your browser and turn off notifications such as Email or messaging.

2. Look your best

  • Lighting should come from in front of you or from the side, in order to best light your face. If you're going to be on camera a lot and presenting information, I recommend an inexpensive ring light, or positioning a lamp in a flattering way that keeps your face well-lit. 
This is NOT good lighting. Unless you're the anonymous witness in a murder documentary.
This is pretty good lighting for a meeting from your home. As long as looking this casual is ok with how you want to be represented.
  • Keep your background clear of distractions. Sometimes it's nice to see what attendees' offices look like and see the fun trappings, just make sure they aren't distractions. My office is clad entirely in Halloween décor year-round, because I love Halloween that much. Sometimes this is a fun talking point if the call is informal, but on many calls, I change my location or use a virtual background.
  • Look at your webcam, not at the screen. Oh, I really need a constant reminder on this one.
  • Use gestures and mannerisms that you would typically use in person. Don't be frozen.
  • If you can, set your laptop/camera at a higher angle. Ideally you want the camera at eye level, and you want to be able to look straight ahead. 
This is what you will look like if your camera is sitting too low. This look is not recommended, unless you are wanting to intimidate or are planning on getting back at a kingdom of mermaids.

Participate productively

1. Make sure everyone can hear you

  • Use a microphone when you speak.
    • Identify yourself to meeting attendees - say your name the first time you begin speaking.
  • Make sure the microphone is on and close enough to pick up your voice, no matter what location you are in.
  • When screensharing, if you are referring to something on the screen, describe where your cursor is going or what it is that you are referring to.
    • Avoid saying "here" or "this" when describing something. Instead, try using more descriptive language: "Notice the box labeled 'sign in' in the upper-left corner of the home page." or "When reviewing the spreadsheet, in column H, row 34..."
    • Identifying what is happening on the screen increases access for everyone attending the meeting.

2. Help everyone focus

  • Try to avoid side conversations.
  • If you aren't talking, mute or turn off your microphone.
  • Avoid noisy activities like typing while your microphone is on. If you've heard this, you know.

3. Reduce Distractions

  • Sit or stand somewhere with a neutral background (or use a virtual background).
  • Make sure your camera is on a steady surface to prevent shaking
  • Turn off your camera if you need to take care of business outside of the meeting (ex. someone in-person needs your attention). Turn the camera back on when you are present in the meeting again. 
"Hi stock image lady!" "Well hello stock image sir!"

​These tips will help to impress the other attendees and give the impression that you are passionate about getting the most out of your meetings whether they are in-person or virtual. And remember if you have any questions about this information feel free to drop us a line at Marketing@ActiveProductionandDesign.com! 

If your meetings/events go beyond a simple virtual conference call and need a higher level of participation, content, and production, Active Production and Design can help! We have been producing a multitude of Virtual Events/Meetings/Conferences and Hybrid events that combine virtual and in-person experiences. We are here to help you deliver your message in the best way possible! Best of luck out there in the Virtual World! 

Active Production and Design Inc. has been providing professional Audio Visual services for Corporate, Special, Social, and Fashion Events globally since 1993. Our goal is always to provide our clients the best possible service, while building positive, lasting relationships. Active Production and Design, Inc. also has extensive experience working as a preferred and exclusive AV provider for hotels, museums, and event venues around the country. For Additional Information Please Contact: Active Production and Design, Inc. 1300 Logan Circle NW Atlanta, GA. 30318 Phone: 404-633-3527 Fax: 404-633-3463  Email: marketing@activeproductionanddesign.com Web: www.activeproductionanddesign.com

Active Production and Design Inc. has been providing professional Audio Visual services for Corporate, Special, Social, and Fashion Events globally since 1993. Our goal is always to provide our clients the best possible service, while building positive, lasting relationships. Active Production and Design, Inc. also has extensive experience working as a preferred and exclusive AV provider for hotels, museums, and event venues around the country.
For Additional Information Please Contact:
Active Production and Design, Inc.
1300 Logan Circle NW Atlanta, GA. 30318
Phone: 404-633-3527
Email: marketing@activeproductionanddesign.com
www.activeproductionanddesign.com 

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Sunday, 25 October 2020