With everything going on in our world, what we consider the "norm" has changed dramatically. For many of you, that includes your workspace.
Many Americans find themselves working from home in an effort to keep fellow co-workers and customers safe and healthy. But even though you see fewer people in your home office (other than perhaps your spouse, kids, or dog), there still is the need to "meet" with your co-workers, boss, or clients from time-to-time. And that is now being done remotely via one of the many video conferencing services out there.
So, what is the protocol for meeting online?
Test your internet beforehand. Make sure your internet can handle video conferencing. Nothing puts a damper on a video call more than when you can't hear or see someone as they continue to experience glitches. If your connection doesn't appear to be great, disconnect other devices from your internet so there is more bandwidth available for your video call. If you need to test your internet, here are some good sites to try.
Make sure your microphone and camera work. Whether it's an external microphone or camera or it's internal on your laptop, test them out and make sure your video conferencing software has access to whatever you'd like to use. Even better, do a test call with a friend or family member to make sure you look and sound okay before jumping on with your boss.
Check your background. Many video conferencing software platforms have virtual backgrounds you can use. Make sure that the background is appropriate for the meeting. You don't want it to be inappropriate or distracting from the actual meeting. You certainly don't have to use a virtual background, but make sure whatever is in your natural background is appropriate and won't be distracting on the call. And finally, make sure your lighting is good. You don't want to be a shadow during the meeting.
Make sure your space is quiet. Yes, the dog will bark or your kids will inevitably make some noise during a call. But do the best you can to make sure your space is quiet for the call. Let your family or roommates know ahead of time about the call. That way they know to keep noise to a minimum and can help keep the rest of the house quiet during the call.
Don't talk over each other. With any video conferencing service, there will be an ever-so-slight delay, which can make it difficult to converse. Make sure that the person talking is finished before jumping in with what you have to say. If it's a large meeting, use the chat function which is available on most video conferencing platforms.
Don't keep your microphone on if you're not speaking. Even if you're not talking, computer mics can pick up fidgety noises and other external sounds that might not even be that loud. Get in the habit of muting your microphone off unless you're talking, especially in large meetings. But also make sure that you get in the habit of turning it back on before attempting to speak.
Don't let your mind wander during the meeting. Sometimes it will be hard to stay focused. But when you're looking at a screen full of people, it's easy to tell who's not paying attention and it can be a bad look. Don't look at your internet browser or do other work during the meeting. Stay focused on who's talking and give them your full attention.
Don't always dress like you're working from home. Dress for the level of the call that you're on. Yes, some of them don't require anything more than sweatpants and a sweatshirt. But a meeting with clients or your boss might require a nicer look.