In Part One of this series, I tried to offer some recommendations for presenters at meetings. But sometimes presenters are attendees. When you are attending someone else’s online meeting, here are some guidelines I suggest you consider. You will see a lot of similarity with Part One. This is NOT a shortcut, but given the interactive nature of the online meeting, many of the same ideas apply.
- BE PREPARED – Much the same as being a presenter, make sure you have all the information you need regarding the subject of this meeting. Have all the website(s) open to the correct page, any other materials you may need to reference. DON’T FORGET:
- In case you are made the Presenter, close any non-work or non-meeting related browser windows or tabs. If you were on Indeed.com and left it open, you could accidentally go there. BAD REVEAL!
- Either close your email software, or disable New Message Alerts, especially the alert sound. You don’t want that in the background, nor do you want to be reading an email when the Boss calls on you.
- Put your phone on DND or silence the ringer, and don’t forget your cell phone, iPad and anything else that makes noise.
- BE EARLY – Get to the meeting at least 5 minutes prior to the starting time. It will give you an opportunity to chat with some of your colleagues. Be careful what you say, as you are never completely sure who is listening and joining.
- BE TECH SAVVY – Make sure you have a backup plan if for some reason the meeting doesn’t launch or some other tech issue occurs. OTHER TECH TIPS:
- Use a headset, either USB or other plug in. Dialing into the conference leaves you susceptible to any kind of interference, bad connection or call drop. Cell Phone only in a DIRE emergency! It is critical that you sound as clear and strong as if you were onsite. You just can’t get that kind of clarity on a cellular or telco line. You can buy a USB adapter into which you can plug your phone headset, for less than $10. I travel with this in case of a popup meeting.
- Don’t take notes using your keyboard. Participants will hear you typing and wonder who you are communicating with. Go LEGACY with a pad or notebook and OMG a pen.
4. BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT – Unless it’s a “lecture” meeting, be prepared and willing to contribute. This can be an opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise. Remember Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
5. BE SURE YOU’VE COMPLETELY DISCONNECTED – There’s a famous clip from a 60s live kiddie TV show where the host says “Goodnite Boys and Girls and remember your Uncle Buddy loves you!” After 3 seconds you hear Uncle Buddy say “Are we off?” A voice answers, “Yes.” “That ought to hold the little bastards,” said Uncle Buddy. Don’t be Uncle Buddy. That includes the video as well. You sure don’t want them to see you answer your colleague with “And what a bunch of idiots they were.”
DO YOU USE A CAMERA? If so, take a selfie to see what your background looks like. Does it look professional? If not, stage things so that your background reflects positively on you when you’re on camera. (I have diplomas, plaques and awards on the wall behind my chair.) Check to see that you are centered in the frame, and an appropriate distance from the camera, so you don’t cut your head off. Make sure, too, that you are dressed appropriately (same as if you were onsite) from the waist up. Only you know you’ve got shorts and flip flops out of frame.
Some of these may seem trivial, but it’s the little things that loom large in this medium. Online meetings are a terrific and versatile tool. But you need to master it to maximize your results.