Properly Preparing for a Virtual Conference Call

Working from home is a new and relatively foreign concept for the vast majority of professionals around the world, however, since the COVID-19 pandemic that swept across the globe earlier this year, it has started to become the new normal. Fortunately, there are plenty of people like freelancers, CEOs, and consultants that have been working remotely for years, and because of those professions, there are already plenty of well-established services that allow you to make video conference calls. In the article below, we have provided some tips on how to properly prepare for a virtual conference call that are useful whether you are completely new to remote work, or even if you have prior experience.

Test your Setup

In the past, if you ever participated in a virtual meeting in your company’s conference room, or even if you attended a regular meeting, chances are that you had a friendly IT team set it up in advance for you to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. Since you are now working from home, your IT team now consists of one person, you. To avoid any interruptions, technical issues, or distractions, be sure to thoroughly test your setup well in advance.

 Internet:

Your internet connection is what allows you to actually connect to the meeting and other participants, so, as you can imagine, it is an extremely important aspect of your setup. If possible, you want to have a hardwired ethernet connection to your router, but in the event that you can’t, try to at least have a line of sight with it as walls and things in the way can disrupt your Wi-Fi connection. Be sure to test your internet speeds to make sure you can actually handle the stress of streaming multiple video sources (you want 50mbps download at the bare minimum), and if you live with others, consider asking them to refrain from streaming videos or downloading anything while you are in your meeting. It is worth mentioning, however, that online games use very little bandwidth so are fine to use during your meeting providing the game itself doesn’t require an update.

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Audio:

Next up you will need to test out your audio capabilities, now most modern laptops come with built-in speakers and a microphone but while these are convenient, we do not recommend using them for an online meeting. The microphone is often low quality and will usually pick up background noise like ambient sounds in your home or even the sound from your computer’s fans. The speakers, if used, will also feedback an echo into your microphone that everyone else in the meeting will be able to hear. Because of these issues, we recommend that you use an external microphone and a pair of headphones, they aren’t too expensive and if you are desperate, even something as simple as a pair of phone headphones will suffice thanks to the addition of a microphone on the cable.

Once you have your hardware sorted, be sure to test them, you can do this via your computer settings or, better yet, jump in a conference call with a friend or co-worker to make sure everything is working alright.

Video:

Finally, you will need to consider your video capability. While we don’t recommend using a laptop’s built-in speaker and mic, a built-in webcam should be fine to use for your meeting. You can always buy an external webcam if you feel like you need a higher resolution, but for the most part, the built-in camera should be fine. One of the great things about virtual meetings is that you can employ virtual backgrounds to hide anything that you may wish to remain private behind you. Hello Backgrounds online zoom video backgrounds offer a huge array of choices that integrate directly into the Zoom application, allowing you to effortlessly use a background in order to keep your personal life private at the touch of a button.

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Record your meetings

Having at least one member of a meeting unable to attend it at the planned time is in no way unusual. Life and other work responsibilities get in the way all the time, especially when you have a pandemic to deal with. Recording your meetings is a great way to keep anyone unable to make it to the meeting itself up to date on current events without having to rely on word of mouth or other people’s notes.

Consider the practical aspect

While the technical aspects are vital, it is also essential that you consider the practical aspects of an online meeting in order to keep everything running smoothly and moving forward. With the added challenge of not actually being face to face with your team, planning and preparation are vital.

Objectives:

Just like with any meeting, you want to have a written list of the topics you want to cover and the objectives you want to work towards in your meeting. It is also a good idea to forward this list to any other participants ahead of time so everyone can prepare themselves.

Clarity:

Clarity is always important, but with online meetings, it is even more so. Online, people will often just nod and accept what you say simply because they don’t want to disrupt the flow of the meeting. Be sure to be as clear as possible and always leave extra time to take questions to clear up any confusion.

Time:

Time management is one of the aspects that is even more important in a virtual setting. While in face to face meetings you can go over your planned time with little more than a slight annoyance, in a virtual meeting people are prone to getting easily distracted and frustrated since they are in the comfort of their own home. To avoid this, try to keep any meeting under 40 minutes, and if you do need to go over, be sure to take plenty of breaks to ensure people stay fresh and focused on the task at hand.

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