By Keenan J. Emery, VanNatta Public Relations
As everyone adjusts to a changing way of life, virtual meetings have never been more important. Businesses are switching to this new model in order to maintain maximum communication with their employees while allowing them to stay socially distant in their homes. However, as expected, it can be quite the transition in learning how to operate and behave in virtual meetings. Here are a few tips for maintaining your professionalism when communicating remotely.
Mute your mic when you are not talking
It can be tremendously distracting for someone speaking when another person’s microphone is constantly cutting in and out. Whenever you are not talking, it is good etiquette and respectful to the speaker to mute your mic. No one wants to hear your kids fighting in the background or your dog barking. If you have a full house, it’s best to tell roommates and family that you need quiet and are going on a call. If you can, have someone take care of your kids or pets while you are in a meeting.
Try to make it look like you are paying attention
I know, I know, you are stuck in the staff meeting that won’t end, talking about matters that don’t affect you. However, for the sake of the other people in the meeting, you need to make it look like you are at least trying. This means that you should try not to wiggle and fidget too much. If you have a movable and reclinable office chair, the temptation will be even worse, so try to sit still.
Also, don’t start eating fistfuls of chips. No one wants to see you vigorously and noisily snacking. If you feel you are incapable of not fidgeting and eating while people are talking, mute your mic and turn off your camera. This will at least make it so people cannot hear or see you as you spin in circles and eat breakfast.
PRO TIP: If at any point you decide to screen share, it’s advised that you close Facebook and Twitter before doing so. That way no one can see your message to your friend talking about how boring your meeting is.
As tempting as it may be to hop out of bed and start your meeting in pajamas, you need to put a little more effort into professionalism. Take a shower, put on a clean shirt, and brush your teeth. You don’t need to be fully-formal, but at least make an effort.
Also, you should consider your background before your virtual meeting starts. You should probably throw away the empty wine bottle and pizza boxes laying on the floor. Got a mirror behind you? Now everyone can see your computer screen. Your background will offer an intimate view of your personality and how you exist outside of work — make it look good.
Keenan J. Emery is an Account Manager at VanNatta Public Relations, a PR, event planning, and consulting firm in Salem, Oregon. PRSalem.com