As many of us adjust to business meetings via phone calls and web conferencing using platforms like RingCentral, Zoom, or GoToMeeting, we are all moving into a new world of collaboration.

For most of us, that means having meetings from our living room, basement, or even bedroom depending on available ‘quiet’ space in our homes among other family members and children.

Here we have outlined some tips to help you and your team make the best impression during your virtual engagements:

    • Use a Headset. Hands down, the most important thing for any web meeting is to ensure as many attendees as possible have a decent quality headset with a microphone. Countless web meetings derail when attendees either dial in via ‘POTS’ (plain old telephone system) or use the microphone and speakers built into their PC or laptop. STOP! Telephone lines are still based on archaic low bandwidth technology that results in poor audio quality, which makes it hard to understand or be understood by others in the meeting and only emphasizes how much they miss a face-to-face discussion. Using the built-in microphone and speakers of your laptop will, at best, result in your other team members hearing you ‘thumping’ on your keyboard since the receiver is located adjacently. Worse, you will often add ‘echo’ to the call as the microphone picks up the audio from your external speakers and retransmits it back into the meeting, causing a ‘loop.”. For simplicity, check out USB headsets like those from Logitech, but avoid ‘gaming’ headsets as they typically block out all external sound and you may need to hear other people around you while being home.

 

    • Use Video. Nearly all modern web meeting platforms offer the option to transmit video. For whatever reason, a lot of attendees are reluctant to use this feature. Don’t be! Please turn it on and use it, especially during internal meetings that would traditionally take place in the office. Turn that video on even if only for the beginning of the meeting until someone starts presenting or screen sharing. Seeing each other allows attendees to feel more ‘connected’ and will enable you to see the physical feedback as topics are being discussed. You have all of this in face-to-face meetings, so why throw it out the window when on the web?

      If your background is a mess, you might want to look into a tool like ChromaCam or xSplit. These are inexpensive software applications you can buy that will add a background to your video. You can also accomplish this with many solutions, including RingCentral and Zoom by putting a ‘green screen’ behind you, but that involves setting up a large temporary green curtain behind your work area. These solutions don’t produce as ‘perfect’ a result (you’ll see some fuzziness around the edges of your hair depending on lighting), but they are generally ‘good enough.’ By using a tool like this, you can make your home place of work look much cleaner and more professional.

      Note: As a sub tip, just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you should move from bed to computer in your pajamas – that’s one reason not to use video. Following your regular routine of a shower, shaving, and getting dressed will put you in the ‘mood’ to work and make things feel more normal. You don’t need to put on a suit and tie, but get as presentable as you would when going to the office. It’s good for your mindset.

 

    • Use the Proper Resolution. External monitors are getting bigger and bigger. For example, a typical daily use Dell monitor has 3880×1600 resolution, which is more than two 1080p monitors side-by-side and an excellent tool to boost multitasking and productivity. However, if you simply ‘share your screen,’ the other attendees will need a magnifying glass to see your entire screen while it tries to squeeze 9x as many dots onto their 1080p resolution. You have a few choices:
      1. If you have more than one monitor and one is a 1080p, move everything you want to show in the meeting to the 1080p monitor and only share that screen.
      2. Only share the one application window versus your entire desktop. For example, if you are trying to show a web page and use Chrome, open up Chrome and make sure it’s taking up something that approximates the equivalent of a 1920×1080 pixels so that when you share it, the other attendees can see it clearly. The downside to this is if you end up needing to share multiple applications, you’ll be juggling re-sharing different windows and resizing things.
      3. If you only have one large monitor and want to keep it ‘simple,’ for Windows 10, type ‘resolution’ in the search box on your taskbar at the bottom and select the first result ‘Change the Resolution of Your Display.’ Set that to 1920×1080. It will resize your screen and ask if you want to keep or revert. Assuming it looks ok, select ‘keep’ – now any screen sharing you do will be easily visible by others. Everything on your screen will look larger, and you’ll be able to see less on the screen at once, but it ensures the other users in your meeting will be able to see what you are showing. After the meeting, repeat the process and set it back to the original resolution.

 

  • Stay Attentive (Or at Least Appear To). Many services like Zoom have features for the presenter to see if you are ‘paying attention.’ Some may use this to verify if you are engaged with them, but many unexpected conditions can make it appear as if you aren’t when you are. For example, if you are in a Zoom meeting and open up another application to take notes if that application is the ‘active’ application even though you can still see and hear Zoom in another window or on another monitor, Zoom will think you ‘aren’t paying attention.’ If you believe your company is using this feature to judge engagement, one tip is to join the Zoom meeting from another device like a tablet (iPad) or your phone and use your PC for note taking.

With these tips in mind, you will be well-equipped to attend and host productive, professional meetings from anywhere.

At Clients First, we are here to help you make the transition to a remote workforce as seamless and as easy as possible. Contact us if you have more work from home tips to share or if you’d like to learn more about our solutions for hosting finance and ERP systems, virtual operations management, at-home laptop security, or paperless payment processing.

Every day we are supporting our customers as they transition their business to meet new and changing demands, because we are in this together. Tell us how, as your partner in back-office applications, we can help you stay safe, stay strong, and stay sane.