Seemingly out of the blue, the virtual meeting has come to dominate the business landscape. Despite the predictions of soothsayers and futurists, no one appreciated the rapidity of uptake. Then again, no one saw the pandemic coming. Aside from the obvious health implications, the secondary effects are numerous. Chief amongst which is the revolution in business communication.
Yet with the changeover to virtual meetings occurring in months, few have fully adapted to the new medium. Many still treat them as a replacement of the old ways. However, that’s like thinking the radio is a replacement for the tv: in a way, but not really.
Therefore, virtual meetings require a revolution in our attitudes. Preparation is vital. It is the key to successful and fruitful digital communication. In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs so that you can Zoom like a pro.
Think back: can you remember sitting in a meeting as someone attempted a tech fix. They’d failed to set the projector up, or test-run some software. For an agonising few minutes, you watched them fumble around, imaging all the things you could be doing. Eventually, they give up—what a waste of time.
Virtual meetings are no different. In fact, they’re worse! The number of things that can go wrong has multiplied. So, in advance of the meeting, test your tech. Avoid the embarrassment, and save everyone else the hassle.
First, check your camera and audio. Often, people have them set to the wrong feed. Therefore, when you join a meeting, you appear blank, or no one can hear you. Test them out by recording a short video, or have a quick call with a colleague. By doing so, you’ll quickly see any issues.
Next, examine your internet connection. As a rule, the more attendees, the more strain your connection will be under. You will need significant bandwidth. Thankfully, most video conferencing apps list the bandwidth requirements on their website. However, there are a few things you may do to help. Locate yourself close to the router, to maximise your broadband connection. If you have a poor connection throughout your house, there are methods to improve it. Contact your internet provider for further details. Additionally, ask anyone using the internet to refrain from high bandwidth activities: gaming and streaming.
Set up your virtual background
Not had a chance to tidy up? Is your child bouncing on the sofa, or is the dog roaming the house? Perhaps you value your privacy. Whatever the reason, virtual backgrounds are a fantastic way to hide your home and present a professional image. Zoom office backgrounds by Hello Backgrounds are amongst the best available. On their site, they have hundreds of options from which to pick. So, you can decide the image you want to present, be it tropical landscape or stylish office.
Lighting and location
What’s the point of testing your camera and setting up your background only to sit in a gloomy corner? Firstly, you lose out on the vital body language and facial expressions, the key to communication. But you also create an air of distrust. We like to see to whom we are speaking.
As such, when conducting your camera test, look for lots of natural light. Ideally, you want to be facing or adjacent to the light source. If the light is behind you, it will cast you in shadow. Furthermore, avoid lamps. They cast dark shadows, and give uneven lighting. If you do need a non-natural light source, consider LED circular lamps. They use white light evenly. So, no shadows.
Next, position your camera. It should be at eye level, facing you. From below, your face stretches out. It’s nobody’s best angle. Plus, you get a prime view of nostrils and chins. Therefore, use a stack of books to raise the laptop. Remember to look directly into the camera. It might feel unnatural, but it is crucial to make eye contact. You will appear confident, and your points will go across better.
Do your prep
Such advice should go without saying. And yet, we’ve all joined a meeting for which we were ill-prepared. Do your reading; prep your work. If there’s an agenda, make sure you’re familiar with the salient points. Furthermore, if you’re presenting, ensure you’ve done at least one practice run. There’s a reason why the scout’s motto is ‘Be Prepared’.