Virtual Meetings: Tips & Tricks

Monday, August 3, 2020

Appearing in the most recent issue of the Milestones in Medical Education Newsletter (July 2020, pg. 2) were the following tips and tricks on Virtual Meeting etiquette. Here's a breakdown of those tips to help you out in this increasingly virtual climate.

1- Don’t be late

If you're the host, this is a sure way to lose attendees, specially the less tech-savvy as they struggle to understand why their meeting isn't launching and chalk it up to technical issues. If you're an attendee this might be less of an infraction, but don't expect the speaker to catch you up on what you missed - virtual meetings move much faster than their live counterparts.

2- Ensure that you have a clean, work-appropriate background

Even if you're not expected to show your face as an attendee, we've all seen the various zoom fails and viral videos of those unexpected on-camera moments. Do a quick survey of your area to make sure there's nothing you don't want to show to your fellow meeting attendees.

3- Close your office door

Joining from the office? Maybe it's your home office? Wherever you're participating from, make sure the door is closed to minimize background noise and unexpected interruptions

4- Be aware of your audio and video settings

Speaking of background noise, try to do a test of your "meeting studio" before participating in a meeting. Using the same software you'll be using for the official meeting, run a test meeting to check your audio and video settings BEFORE the meeting takes place. Check that your microphone is connected and that your camera feed is visible. Most meeting softwares have a Help section or How-To Guides to teach you how to navigate their system - this is a good time to use them

5- Turn on the camera

If you're hosting the meeting make sure to have your camera on. There's nothing more discouraging as an attendee to join a meeting and wonder if anything is actually happening. Unless you're sharing your screen, a video feed is one of the few feedbacks an attendee has from the system to let them know everything working. 

6- Sit still

Are you sharing your video? If so, make sure to stay in your place. This applies to in person meetings as well.

7- Look into the camera when talking instead of looking at yourself

If you have a free-standing camera, position it above the center of your screen and minimize your personal video feed. This will make it easier to read any text you might be using when speaking or attending a meeting, without making it look like you're distracted by something outside of the meeting or by your looks. 

8- No eating

Try to avoid this as much as possible, but if it can't be avoided make sure to turn off your mic while you're chewing your food.

9- Eliminate distractions and focus on the agenda

Keeping the attention of everyone attending a meeting is difficult enough in person, even more so during virtual meetings when attendees can minimize the meeting window and go about their business on the web. To make sure everyone stays on board and is paying attention create an agenda and make sure to stick to it. 

10- Don’t multitask

A Virtual Meeting is not the time to do the dishes, bathe the kids, or watch Netflix. Aside from possibly missing out on a cue to chime in, this is a sure way you will fail to notice if you forgot to shut off your mic or video feed, letting others know more about your personal life than you might have intended to. 

11- Introduce everyone at the beginning

While this might not be possible for larger meetings, this should be no different for smaller meetings taking place in person. If you are the host or coordinator of a small virtual meeting, take the time to introduce those attending to each other.

12- If you are the host, stick around.

Do not hide your meeting window behind web browser tabs or Word documents. Be present as a host in the event you are needed, even if you are not speaking.

Got more tips or advice for those attending a meeting online? Have any cautionary tales or blunders of you'd like to share? Leave them in the comments below.