Remote Meetings – Rules of Engagement

by

Over the past few weeks from toddlers to elder lemons, we have all had a baptism of fire when it comes to remote meetings.  

While we are well used to them at this stage you can see already an A to Z of how people are great or not so great using them so I thought it was worth writing this as we can all get a little bit better – it’s all about Communications!

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay, so I have some tips that have helped me through this new way of working and could help you as well.

For us at Fuzion, it gives us the opportunity to say that we are very much open for business, sleeves up and ready to help. And it’s working for us – we even have won new business for the first time ever without ever having met the client face to face!

When the lockdown was announced first, we thought that was the end of all of our Social Media and Media Training as well as our Brand and Communications Workshops, but we quickly adapted and we have been busier than ever thanks to Zoom.

Remote meetings will never replace the valuable face to face connectivity but if we can get remote meetings right, think of the time we can save, not to mind the benefits to the environment and our pockets. 

It could mean that when the world “reboots” if we embrace remote meetings we will be far more productive and effective as individuals and as organisations and we might even win back some more quality of life.

Here are some of my learnings since conquering the fear of my laptop camera!!

  1. Be mindful of your image

Treat remote meetings as if you are all in the same room.

Wear work appropriate clothing and be mindful of your backdrop. If you have a home office, how about using one of your company’s pop ups, or if that’s not feasible either have a blank wall, or a backdrop that is clutter free.

The first week I just wore my gym gear – who cared…. It turns out I did. 

Part of my ability to thrive and not just survive during this time is keeping to my rituals and that includes giving myself time to look well every day – that way, if there is a last minute meeting – well I’m ready for my closeup!!!

  1. Turn your camera on – don’t hide

Pre Covid the majority of people kept their camera off and blamed the wifi! Now it’s becoming less acceptable to have your camera turned off.  

Now most people almost resent it where people leave their camera off.  You almost feel that they are hiding something, or that they don’t want to engage with you fully.

In most cases no one will say anything but they will see you (or not at all!) in a different light if you are the hidden one.

  1. Have the right light

Don’t sit with your back to the window or to strong lighting – all people will see is your silhouette. Use soft natural light to illuminate you in front or to the side. 

If you don’t have good lighting, invest in an LED Ring Light – They are great value, can plug into your laptop and offer a variety of lights and strengths depending on the natural light in the room.

In my room, I work with the light behind me, so I have positioned my laptop on books to the side with one of these LED lights behind the camera, so when I’m on a Zoom call, I turn the light on and it really softens the lighting.  

  1. Frame the camera correctly

Try out a number of positions/locations for the camera – which may also change during the day depending on light. 

Show all of your face. Place the camera at eye level or higher. Looking up at the camera makes you look more engaged (so they say!!)  And look into the lens, not at the screen. That’s where the people are, and that is how you make eye contact.

I have been on one or two meetings, where the other person’s camera was pointed at the ceiling, which is definitely worse than not having the camera on at all!!!

  1. Drown out noise

If you are in an environment where there are other people working near you, or there might be other distracting sounds you might consider using headsets. They could be the typical ones that come with your phone.

I’m working in an office on my own so I find the mic and the speakers on my laptop work fine, however some colleagues that run workshops and webinars prefer to use headphones or a headset with a mic.

Click this link that I found on the Zoom help resources on best cameras and headsets

  1. Sit up straight and proud

Don’t slouch, sit on a chair, rather than a couch if possible, so it feels more like a meeting setting. Don’t move as much as you might during an in-person meeting, and stay within the camera frame.

Saying that, I work from a couch, with cushions supporting my back as I work. 

I have my laptop to my side, connected to a big screen on a coffee table in front of me and my cordless keyboard on a tray on my lap. Very comfy as as it makes room for my new work colleagues – my dogs Honey and Bert either side of me!!! 

When it comes to meetings, I lean toward the edge of the couch, sit up straight, turn towards the camera which is to the side, so that the backdrop is the wall rather than all the cushions surrounding me. It keeps me focused sitting at the edge of the couch and I have my cordless keyboard and mouse on a tray, so I am able to access the screen if I need to.

  1. Look engaged

Remember it’s not a mirror, so don’t go fidgeting with your hair, or don’t click away on your computer keyboard while someone is talking. If you really have to click away or if there is any external noise like the dogs (or the kids) acting up, then mute when you are not speaking.

I was at a meeting the other day, where one of the ladies kept on tying her hair up and then down. She forgot that everyone could see her.

I think I preferred her hair down lol!!!

  1. Be on time

And that means joining the meeting a few minutes before the start time, to make sure your connection is working OK.

It’s sort of like getting the meeting room ready for the meeting. When I worked in the office, I’d always make sure the room was in order before the meeting and this is my way of making sure I create the best possible impression by being on time and that everything is working properly.

  1. Keep Meetings Short

Some people find remote meetings more draining than face to face meetings. So try and keep them to less than an hour. After the meeting walk around for a few minutes, grab a coffee or give the dog (or kid) a treat for behaving during the meeting!!

I find that I have to focus much more during remote meetings. I want to be sure I hear what everyone is saying and that I’m 100% engaged. So afterwards I feel really drained, but I find it helps keeping them to under an hour if at all possible.

  1. Go Zoom

I know there were some security issues regarding Zoom during the first week or so of the lockdown, but we find this platform really reliable and the quality of audio, visual and screen sharing functionality really good. 

It’s free to use to host meetings if they are under 40 minutes and it’s also free to use if you are just joining in on a meeting. You just need to download the app the first time you use it.

Their website is really great as well for tips on how to use the platform as well as general help with organising webinars, meetings or just working from home. Click here for a blog post from them I found really useful – tips on how to meet like a pro while working from home.

The biggest reason for using Zoom at this stage, is that it is quickly becoming the standard. People are becoming very familiar with it and if it is a meeting, a training session or a webinar make it as easy as possible for them and don’t place any barriers to entry, such as another platform they may not know.

So, that’s all from me – I hope you find these simple tips really useful, and you never know I could be meeting you soon, on Zoom or even better in person!  

Deirdre Waldron, Fuzion Communications, PR ConsultantDeirdre 

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

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