5 Ways To Ensure Professionalism During Online Meetings
May 13, 2020 | Category: Articles
By: Dylan Shelton
Whether by choice or mandate, an overwhelming majority of worker and student populations have shifted to meeting in virtual settings. As you adjust to this new environment, keep in mind that, although you may now attend meetings and lectures from the comfort (or discomfort) of your own home, the same level of professionalism required in face-to-face encounters is required online. The following are 5 tips to achieve a professional online meeting experience.
1. Preparation is Crucial
Due to added distractions and temptations, staying on track during virtual meetups can prove ten times more difficult than when communicating face-to-face. To combat this, it is crucial to plan ahead1. Correspond with co-workers/classmates in advance, familiarize yourself prior to the meeting with topics you know will be discussed, write down any questions you may need answered, and have your materials ready before joining a conference. Taking these extra steps will not only reflect well on you, but it will allow you to attend to the task at hand without scrambling for clarification at the last second.
2. Appearances Matter
Whether you are meeting with a professor, coworker, or peer, the virtual environment you create is equally as important as it would be in a face-to-face setting5. Dressing appropriately, speaking clearly, maintaining good posture, and being punctual are all required in physical settings; therefore, it is required in virtual settings as well. Although these mannerisms may already be habitual for some, what is not always of habit is maintaining a work-appropriate background aesthetic5. While you may not have to worry about dirty laundry in the office, a pile of clothes on your bed does not provide for the best background, nor does it promote a professional image. Keep your background environment clean, organized, well lit, and distraction-free.
3. Stay Connected
The virtual environment can often cause an overwhelming sense of isolation. Communication seems lost, and human connection is lacking. Remember that clear and thorough communication is just as important, if not more important in virtual settings4. During online meetups it is easy for tone, body language, and emotion to become lost. This highlights the need to clarify and be thorough in your communication. Ask questions, send follow-up emails, and never be afraid to ask for help. Texting, emailing, or calling your boss/coworker/peer for work and school-related issues outside of a meeting is not crossing a boundary; rather, it is making up for a lack of face-to-face contact and ensuring the lines of communication remain open.
4. Don’t Skip the Small Talk
While productivity in a meeting is crucial, we should all take time to appreciate small talk. Whether it’s light humor, a peculiar observation, or just some random fact, off-topic conversation is not always a negative. As long as it is not excessive, or impedes the flow of an important conversation, talking about something outside the realm of work or school can be a positive3. You may not realize it during the moment, but small talk is essential in building trust within your network3. As mentioned earlier, virtual communication can take the human connection out of things, but small talk can help restore it.
5. Check Your Audio and Video Settings
You may have the most professional mannerisms in the world, but if your audio and visual quality on your device is sub-par, your skills become overshadowed by your blaring microphone and lagging video camera. The time spent being productive during virtual meetings relates directly with the audio-visual quality of your phone or computer2. If you know you will have to communicate with peers or coworkers, test your video and audio quality beforehand. This gives you time to resolve any issues before a meeting begins. A side note: if your peers are having trouble hearing you, check 1) if your microphone is muted and 2) if you are speaking directly into the microphone before you make any drastic changes.
You may be new to the realm of virtual meetups, or perhaps you have prior experience interacting in live online sessions. Regardless, everyone can benefit from these tips to improve their communication skills online. So, remember to prepare in advance, be mindful of appearances, intentionally connect, enjoy the small things, and test your computer settings in advance. Most importantly, have fun and take pride in all the work you do!
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