The Eleven Critical Tips for Successful Videoconferencing: Part 2- Be Prepared
If you’re an attorney, I would hope that if presented with the opportunity to argue a case before the Supreme Court you wouldn’t just say “I’ll be fine, how hard can it be”, but rather you would study, prepare, and rehearse for your big day of oral arguments. Whatever your profession or video conference need, apply the same discipline to your online contacts.
Practice, Practice, Practice:
Practice Your Meeting, and I mean every part of the presentation and the technology. Can you start the software and sign in properly? Do you know how to quickly turn on (and off!) your camera, microphone, and any screen or document sharing you may have to do? Every meetings software has shortcut keys for all of these action, and until you do it enough to know them don’t be afraid to write them down or print out a “cheat sheet” of commands.
While you’re writing things down, it can’t hurt to have an agenda/timeline outline that has what you need to do when – do you need to mute or un-mute all of the participants for certain segments of the presentation? Write it down.
Whatever you do, don’t try to learn the tech on-the-fly. You may be a WebEx user from way back but if you’ve switched to Zoom (or never been the presenter/moderator of a meeting until now), you won’t give the smooth presentation that you’re hoping for and it will show.
Dress For Success:
If you were attending the meeting in person, how would you look? Showered, shaved, dressed appropriately for the event? Why should this be any different? Slouching in your bunny slippers may be fun, but you are taking the most precious thing that these individuals have to give you; their time. Respect that and show that you do by looking the part. That includes sitting up straight rather than slumping over the camera.
Fine-Tune your Camera Position:
As you do your quick run-through of your presentation, this is a good time to pay close attention to camera position and background. Has anything changed like it’s now late afternoon and the sun is streaming through a window behind you, your camera is tilted at some weird angle which will drive some participants nuts, or did the dog poop in the corner (again!) and it’s just in camera range?
This is a good time to discover that yes, you do want to wear pants, even though “you’re certain” no one will ever see below your [whatever amount you choose to dress down to]. I could do another couple of hundred words on all the times I’ve seen more than I cared to of careless co-workers. Also, it just makes you feel more professional and ready for a meeting.
Avoid Common Screen Sharing Snafu’s:
As important as what is behind you when getting in front of the camera is what is on your desktop and open in your browser.
When starting and stopping screen, document, or browser sharing you have the chance to show more than you may have bargained for. The screen “wallpaper” photo of your buddies at the frat may not be the photo you want up for public consumption.
Check the names of the icons on your desktop or opened in your taskbar. They may be embarrassing or even leak vital information about you or your organization. Close every browser tab and program you don’t absolutely need to do your presentation. Brit Hume of FOX News gave a Master Class on this in March, 2020; just check out the browser tabs.
So, the moral of Part Two of this story is don’t just slide into this as some slapdash “oh darn I’ve got a presentation in 5” kinda thing, but get your room, your computer, and you prepared to meet your audience.
PREVIOUS: Part 1: Location, Location, Location
NEXT: Part 3: In the Moment