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Online meeting tips: 6 ways to present yourself better
We’re all doing more meetings with video. Use these etiquette tips and best practices to avoid flubs and get your message across, as a leader or participant
4. Use screen sharing – appropriately
Many online meetings focus on sharing slides or screen-sharing information from online tools. In an IT-focused meeting, you might be sharing demos of applications or application prototypes. During screen sharing, your face might not be shown on screen at all or it might be reduced to a thumbnail image. As with any visual aids, you should use these tools when they are appropriate.
Just don’t hide behind the screen-sharing tools and forget the power of the face-to-face connection.
For example, when you are done with your main presentation and ready to take questions, that would be a good time to stop sharing your screen and put yourself on camera. You want to make the best possible connection with your remote audience.
5. Prepare for good audio
Nothing ruins an online meeting faster than bad audio: terrible feedback, echoing voices, background noise, or people in a conference room who are too far from any mic to be heard by remote participants.
When joining a meeting as a single participant from your own computer, using a headset makes it easier to hear and be heard clearly while filtering out background noise. When joining from a conference room and using a speakerphone or similar gadget, make sure you first disable computer audio to prevent a feedback loop.
Small audio glitches tend to be magnified the more participants there are in a meeting, building into a cacophony. For that reason, it’s a good practice for participants to mute their audio until they have something to say. As the meeting organizer, you may need to remind people of this as a rule of etiquette. If your meeting tool allows, you may want to mute everyone and tell them to unmute as necessary.
6. Project your presence, not just your picture
In a business context, your purpose typically is not to dazzle people with your presentation skills, but to get an important message across. Although a virtual meeting may offer some useful tools you do not have in person (such as the ability to text chat with other participants), making a forceful impression on a remote audience can also be difficult.
One of the toughest situations is where you and maybe one or two other people are remote, but the majority of the participants are sitting together in a conference room. They are truly face-to-face, perhaps rolling their eyes every time you make a point. How do you level the playing field in those circumstances?
For one thing, turn your webcam on and try to get them on video too. Ideally, the conference room would be equipped with a camera that will show the whole remote team, giving you the most clues to who is engaged, bored, or exasperated, as well as who is speaking. In a pinch, a strategically placed laptop webcam is better than nothing.
Marsha Freedman of Express Yourself Communications in Fort Lauderdale, says that beyond the mechanics of the meeting environment, you can help yourself by being more prepared. “Make sure you’ve done your research ahead of time and know what your audience wants,” she advises. “There may be a concern that the meeting will be a waste of time because statistics show, most meetings are.
“Think about the other person’s point of view,” Freedman continues. “Why should they pay attention?”
Grab their attention, and your message will shine through whether your audience is on the other side of the room or the other side of the world.
[ It’s not your imagination: Some meetings hurt your brain. See our related story: How to run meetings that hurt less. ]