Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the vast majority of meetings and events take place virtually. But there are a few things to keep in mind. //next has therefore compiled nine tips for participants - soon to be followed by nine more for the organisers of such meetings.
Everyone is sure to know this situation: you’re sitting in front of your PC, all dressed up and ready to go, but suddenly the WiFi disconnects. If you want to avoid creative excuses of why you’ve arrived late, just check your equipment a few minutes before. For example, check the lighting, sound, internet signal and background noise beforehand. Pro tip: if possible, have a second device and headphones.
Simple, basic, but still frequently not done: mute yourself! Maybe you don’t mind the postman ringing the doorbell to deliver the third parcel that day. However, the noise could be very distracting to the speaker, so please remember to mute yourself when you’re not talking.
It’s called “home office” and that includes the word “office”. So make sure that your appearance is as professional at online events as if you were in the office. Would you wear that sweater to an on-site meeting too? And if you’re wearing jogging pants, make sure the camera is turned off when standing up. Your children partied in the kitchen last night and now you have to join a meeting there? No problem, thanks to MS Teams Background. Consider your body language, don’t stand in front of a window, maintain “eye contact” with the black box (even if it’s distracting – it’s worth it!), and don’t sit too close to the screen.
As the host of an online meeting, nothing is more frustrating than speaking to a black box for hours without any interaction with the audience. The speaker can’t be sure whether you’re listening intently or sitting on the toilet right now. So be kind and turn your camera on.
Sometimes the clock hands just run too fast and we don’t know how to get all the work done and be at the nursery in time to pick up our child at 6.00 pm. But – even if it’s tempting – you wouldn’t work on other projects while attending on-site meetings, so please don’t work while attending an online event. Your host will spot it from your eye movements in any case.
Interacting at online events may be difficult. Is your counterpart already done with his contribution, or was that just a brief internet problem? Or do you want to mention something but just can’t, because your counterpart was (as always) the first to unmute? Using the “raise your hand” function can help with that problem.
If you enter a room for a normal meeting and realize that you don’t know some of the attendees, you start with a handshake. So it’s a good idea to start online events with a virtual handshake as well: introduce yourself. Share your name, title, position. Also start with your name when introducing yourself to bigger audiences, like Webinars – it’s always nice to know that you’re a human with a name and not a robot.
Eating during a meeting that is not a business lunch is extremely impolite! However, a healthy lunch and scheduled breaks are even more important when you’re working from home. If you don’t have enough time for a normal lunch break, you should reconsider your work-life balance. And remember: eating while attending a meeting is not a solution for that issue!
Is there anything worse than preparing for an event, holding a Q&A session and nobody asks a question? That’s bad enough in real life! So imagine how extremely difficult it would be to present to an audience when you can’t see their expressions or receive any response after you share a thought or detail about a topic.
Text: Anne-Sophie Hobl