Online meetings – what you should look out for. Nowadays, digital conferencing or rather online meetings are widely used in companies. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, most companies move on to organising virtual meetings. But digital conferencing was also quite popular before Covid-19 in case of several branches getting in touch contemporary. Communication by mail and phone is not sufficient anymore because larger teams often demand additional possibilities. The reason for that is that companies place high value on an optimised and flexible coordination among the different teams.

Thanks to the virtual meeting, employees who are not in the company itself get integrated optimally. Many of them work from home currently. So, the sales representatives are also kept informed much better by this progressive method of communication.

Presenting yourself in front of the camera is unusual at first. If the online meeting should pass the appropriate aim, some basic rules should be considered. This concerns the event’s organiser as well as every single participant

Planning serves as the basis for success

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Planning the online meeting is the most important thing!

As already known from non-virtual meetings, planning is considerable efficient for a meeting. The organiser or team leader has to provide a determined agenda with enough time in advance. Therefore, he ensures that everybody can prepare oneself optimally. The presenter can as well use the agenda as a guideline during the conference. It structures the progress in order to keep the meetings productive.

Especially the head of the course should prepare for his job in the best possible way. It is not only about the content but also concerns the technical and practical aspect of the event. An unimpeded internet connection should be set, and all tools used in the meeting be well-known. If having to think about which button stands for which feature, the meeting will surely not be of a top-quality.

Especially the head of the course should prepare for his job in the best possible way. It is not only about the content but also concerns the technical and practical aspect of the event. An unimpeded internet connection should be set, and all tools used in the meeting be well-known. If having to think about which button stands for which feature, the meeting will surely not be of a top-quality.

Keep it short

Just like in a face-to-face meeting, the participant’s attention flags during a virtual one too. A lack of interest and boredom can arise in the digital world even earlier. This can be explained by the fact that employees are less retained due to the actual presence of their colleagues. Complex business matters require an increased concentration, so dividing the meeting into segments of different topics can be helpful. Each meeting should be kept short and not exceed 45 minutes.

Provide variety through interaction

Having a lack of physical closeness can send individual participants doing private stuff and mails. The leader of the meeting can prevent such problems by involving the people attending and asking them precisely. He rather can also initiate a dialogue or even a controversy among the participants. By that, variety and an exciting process of the discussion occurs which yet let them focus on the topic of the meeting. Because if the participant really has the feeling of participating instead of watching the presentation in a passive way, he will pay further attention thematically.

Online meeting – only a matter of technical equipment

The major difference to conventional meetings is the technical equipment of online meetings and their application. Participants and host often tackle this task in a carefree manner and rely on sound and picture to operate distortion-free. But all technology is temperamental on its own. At least there has to be sufficient time if additional components need to be installed.

The background: rather spare or colourful?

Mostly there is an unorganised situation if looking at its own face through the intern webcam for the first time. Especially the background looks untidy or way to private and not presentable. If wanting to join a video call, annoying circumstances like these prove to be an obstacle. But in the end, individual preferences determine what is to be seen in the background.

But the decision should always be made intentionally. Some prefer a white wall with only a few personal items, others make use of the greenscreen technology in order to dub in colourful animations in the background. Important is the atmosphere to fit the occasion and individual preferences. Even more important is that the participant’s personality has priority, and the interior distracts not too much.

The camera – only a matter of perspective

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Using a good webcam for the video call means even more fun.

Both, the camera integrated in the notebook and the webcam from the PC, are never on the same height as your eyes. That’s why you can’t make eye contact with the other participants and your gaze is always directed upwards or down a bit. For a meeting, setting a camera on a tripod is always the best way. If it is placed centrally in front of the monitor and arranged correctly, you will look at the person you talk to in a natural way. This will ensure the attentiveness though.

If a tripod can’t be used or rather is not available, the camera is best set on the desk but with an extra heightening. Books or other appropriate utensils can be used as a pad in order to provide the ideal height of the camera.

The lightning

Many compare an online meeting with a stage. And what’s it all about on a stage? Correct, the appropriate lightning. Daylight has the most natural effect. That’s why a place near a window is a good choice for some videorecording. The natural light brightens the face, just a similar effect as with using video lightning. Nevertheless, the incidence of light has to be appropriate and come from the front. If not, one side of the face will stay in the dark which creates an unprofessional image.

The sound

Indeed, a laptop has apart from the camera a microphone too but mostly recording sounds with an external device is quite better. By using a headset, the sound will immediately be played on the computer. Feedback and background noises will be left out while the speaking stays clearly and distinctly. Just to be sure, it is best to disconnect one’s own speakers. Otherwise, there will occur whistling noises and an unpleasant echo. If avoiding all interferences by using a headset, participants can follow the meeting much better.

Even more easy would be considering a technical component that gets used quite often: the off button. Something you can also mute is the microphone. Therefore, potential background noise doesn’t get through to the other participants.

Present and convincing

The office desk always seems a bit personal and distant. Although, this seating is appropriate for most occasions, a presentation requires a strong appearance too. And exuding an adequate presence will only develop while standing. Mimic and gestures will arise naturally and emphasise the content. The ambience is the speaker’s stage. Even if he does some movement, the deliberately chosen background, camera position and lightning should not prevent from seeing everything properly. Laptop and documents can be placed on a small high desk or music stand in order to not being visible for everyone.

Clothes make the man

The complete business outfit is shown when holding a presentation while standing. If sitting in front of the camera, it is appropriate to adapt the visible clothes to the business style. Actually, colleagues expect a more casual option of clothing during the online meeting. An extravagant outfit appears as overdressed. If a tie and suit is common for a usual live meeting, most go without the tie online. Ladies put instead of the women’s suit an equal shirt. One motto applies for both, everyday life and meetings: anyone who stands in front of the camera in a gym outfit, can’t cope with his topic.

Having a virtual presentation does completely differ from an oral presentation in the conference room or on a stage. Performing a lengthy monologue on the internet feels all the more out of place. That’s why a speaker being self-confident considers the participation of the audience. Short, interposed questions ease the atmosphere in case of the speaker animating its audience and simply waiting for their reaction. In the end, a brief summary of the presentation takes place and a humorous farewell.

Keep order on the internet too

The fact that the office desk should make a fair impression is obvious. Often, areas are visible to the person you are talking to, but you consider yourself unobserved in your familiar, personalised chaos. It can be quite embarrassing if there are not only work-related documents placed on the computer desktop. Private photos or documents have no business being there if there’s a chance for the participants to accidentally get deeper insights through the sharing of your desktop.

The post "Online meetings: what to pay attention to" written by:

Sophie Voigtländer

Expertin für Bürogestaltung und Ergonomie

Sophie joined deskonia at the beginning of 2021. Since then, she is mainly responsible for translating all kinds of texts into English.

She studied International Communication and Translation.

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