Assuming we want to look as confident and professional on someone else’s computer screen as we do in person, here are a few tips for hosting or attending online meetings.
1) Ensure confidentiality and security
Not all video conferencing software provides the same security, so consider whether your meetings will require true end-to-end encryption. To avoid uninvited guests logging into your meeting and listening-in or causing disruption, require a password for entry. It’s also a good idea to use a virtual waiting room where attendees will log in and wait until they are specifically granted access by the host.
2) Check your tech
Place your camera at approximately eye-level. When speaking, look at the camera, not the screen. Use headphones to avoid audible echoes. And be sure to test any new software or equipment before logging into any meetings with others.
3) Don’t assume others know how to use the software
If you expect to be arranging online meetings with new contacts, it’s a good idea to prepare (or download, if one already exists) a brief step-by-step walkthrough for accessing the meeting, and provide those instructions to every attendee in advance. Ensure others have backup contact info for the host, should they be unable to access the meeting.
4) Dress (and set-dress) to impress
Maintain a look consistent with how you would appear in-person. Don’t forget proper leg-ware! Use a wall or tidy shelf as a backdrop—avoid windows as they can be distracting and can blow out your lighting, making you difficult to see.
5) Prepare to share
If you will be referring to documents during the meeting, prepare in advance what you will and will not be screen-sharing. Remember to close any non-relevant windows or programs you may have running in the background, as you probably don’t want others to see the online shopping or cat videos you were looking at earlier.
6) Mute, mute, and mute
For meetings with a large number of attendees, remind everyone at the start that they should mute their microphones if they’re not speaking (and unmute when they are).
7) Summarize and memorialize, and/or record with written consent
If meeting with a client, remember to memorialize the meeting immediately after it ends, and put any instructions received or advice given into writing. In some cases, it may be helpful to record the meeting. If you intend to do so, obtain the written consent of those attending, and confirm their consent at the start of recording.
Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.