As more than 3.4 billion people, or nearly 43% of the world’s population, are having to stay at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual meetings related to your job or your studies have also multiplied. Conference calls, video chats, and online events are now taking up a considerable portion of our day.
But with flexible work- and study-from-home practices come great responsibilities. There is no reason to underperform or underestimate the value of your professional conversations just because they are taking place online.
If you want to be noticed for your stellar skills at conducting a virtual meeting, this simple step-by-step guide is for you.
Step 1: Prepare an agenda
Let’s start with what you can do to get ready at least a few days before your video meeting. Whether talking to a coworker or meeting someone for the first time, the number one mistake you can make is to show up without any notes, questions, or ideas about the topic at hand. You need to demonstrate that you have made an effort to contribute to the conversation.
You can do this by creating an agenda with your expectations for the meeting. What will the person on the other end want to know from you? Can you prepare specific examples or facts that will help achieve the goals of the meeting? Even if some aspects of the topic seem unclear, this is a great opportunity to ask relevant questions and prove that you have thought about the subject in depth.
Step 2: Get to know the platform
You might be familiar with some of the commonly used channels for digital communication, but there are online events that take place on custom platforms. If this is the case for your next meeting, you will need to get comfortable with the platform in advance.
Don’t hesitate to test the software more than once and try to replicate the real conditions of your upcoming virtual meeting. For example, make sure you practise on the same device and Internet browser as you plan to use during the actual event. A fully charged battery for your computer or smartphone, a stable Internet connection, and a working camera and microphone are other musts. You don’t want to lose valuable time during your meeting fixing simple issues such as these, right?
Step 3: Take care of distraction
The day of your next meeting is finally here. What final touches can you add to set up the perfect workspace?
First, make sure the room and background are appropriate for a professional conversation. Your surroundings should be as quiet as possible and the background behind you should be neutral. A messy room will instantly send the wrong impression during any video call.
Second, mobile phones and other distractions have no place at your meeting. Switch off the sound and be present. This will not only show the care and effort you put in, but it will also help you stay focused and confident during your meetings.
Step 4: Show respect
What are the top three things most meeting participants will notice about you? The answer – showing up on time, dressing appropriately, and remembering their names.
While some cultures can have a different understanding of time, punctuality is always a sign of respect. Keep this in mind for your next virtual meeting and follow the schedule.
Then, think of the most appropriate dress code for the occasion. Most people have a business casual outfit in their wardrobes which is usually the recommended choice even for an online meeting format.
If you are looking for a subtle way to impress someone when meeting them for the first time, just make the effort to remember their name. This might be easier during virtual meetings because you can write it down. Have pen and paper by your side and try to address the person by their name during the conversation.
Step 5: Mind the time
While this is not the most important aspect of virtual meetings, you might want to keep track of the time once you get started. For example, you might be attending an online event with a strict meeting schedule. You don’t want to be cut off in the middle of your conversation, so take note of when you have five or ten minutes left.
Even if the duration is not predefined, most professionals appreciate meetings that are brief and to the point. This is where your agenda from step 1 will come in handy once again.
Step 6: Send a thank you note
Finally, you have finished your meetings for the day and you have managed to make a good impression. Participants will have certainly noticed your awareness of the topic, appropriate background and dress code, and punctuality. Is there something extra you can do to make them remember this positive experience?
A short email to thank the person for their time shows that you value their active participation in the meeting. This is highly recommended if you were meeting the person for the first time during the video call or if you don’t talk to them regularly. Even just a few words of thanks will make them feel appreciated.
Now you are fully prepared to take your meetings online.