Our top 10 tips for improving your virtual meetings


Whether you are hosting or attending a virtual meeting, it is always important to leave a positive and professional impression.  Meetings that are plagued with distractions or complications, whether they be technical or audio-visual, could have an impact on your professional image.

So, to help you look, sound and be your best, the next time you are hosting or attending a virtual meeting, we have put together our top 10 tips for improving your virtual meetings.

1. Ensure you have good lighting.

It’s important that your face can be seen clearly during your video conference. Think about your workspace, and if it is a naturally dark room, either choose a better-lit area or introduce some better lighting to that area. For example, moving yourself to sit in front of a window (with natural light), or placing a lamp right behind your laptop screen will help. The light should be coming from behind your laptop (i.e. with you sitting facing it) not coming from behind you, as this will cause you to be a shadow on the screen.

2. Use your laptop or computer, not your iPhone.

Yes, we all love our iPhones and feel lost without them because they are convenient and handy to use. But in the case of a virtual meeting, this would not be a smart idea. Using your iPhone will create too much movement on your screen. It will also take away the freedom of your hands to take notes and search for any information you may need during the meeting. A laptop will give you the sturdy image that you need and this is definitely more professional.

3. Ensure your webcam is at eye level.

Something that a lot of people do, is to have their laptop sitting on their desk with the camera pointing up to their face. This results in people looking up at you (or up your nose), at an unflattering angle and not looking at eye level with you, as they should be. The best way to prevent this is to place your laptop on a laptop stand, or if you do not have one, simply find a box or a pile of books to place it on.

4. Test ahead and avoid technical issues.

There will always be some technical issues that are beyond our control, however by being proactive and testing things out beforehand, you can avoid many technical hitches which only end up causing you unwanted headaches and stress. Keep in mind that each program is unique and requires you to provide certain permissions to enable the use of the platform. I.e. if you are hosting a meeting on a program that you have never used before, make sure you have completed the whole setup well before your meeting is due to commence.

5. Talk to your camera, not your screen.

When we speak during a virtual meeting, we want to give the impression that we are looking directly at the person (or people) we are speaking to. This will be achieved if you look directly into your camera when you are speaking. If you allow your eyes to wander and look around the screen, it appears as though you are looking elsewhere (away from your audience). If you would like to create the atmosphere of being face-to-face, then looking directly into your camera will achieve this and make a stronger connection with your audience.

6. Be present in the meeting.

There are many times during meetings when we find ourselves “switching off” and are tempted to take a quick look at our emails, check text messages or our Facebook feed. When you do any of these things, it is very likely that the person who happens to be speaking at the time is noticing that you are no longer engaged. This can come across as unprofessional and a little disrespectful. Do your best to stay focused and absorb all the information, it will only benefit you in the end.

7. Make an effort with your appearance.

Make an effort with how you are dressed, because how you look, will affect the way you feel, which will then affect the way you hold yourself, speak and interact. Dressing well boosts confidence and you will be taken more seriously because you look professional. Concentrate on good posture and use positive gestures to connect with your audience. Portray confidence, warmth and a little humour at the right times and you will impress when it is your time to speak. Make sure you are not wearing anything that could potentially distract from what you are saying, such as a slogan on a T-shirt or large floppy earrings.

8. Good sound is imperative.

It is important to get your audio right so that people do not have to strain to hear you clearly. If you are using a laptop with a built-in microphone, sit as close as possible to your laptop, so that you can be heard clearly. This will also cut out any background noise.

9. Do a background check.

If possible, ensure you are in a room on your own or a quiet confined space. You do not want any background noise (such as the TV), or any movement, such as pets, children or other family members walking by in the background. It is important everyone remains focused on the meeting and not on the distractions occurring behind you.

10. Execute the beginning and end of your meeting correctly.

If you are the host, at the commencement of the meeting, warmly welcome and introduce all attendees (if they are not known to each other). Depending on the reason (or tone) of the meeting, it is generally nice to start on a friendly note, with some light-hearted banter to help everyone relax and ease into the agenda of the meeting. Likewise, at the end of the meeting, thank everyone for their time and attendance.

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