As many of us switch to videoconferencing for most of our work meetings, here are some tips to make the most of your office time online.

Prepare the Room and Yourself

Prepare Your Technology

Facilitation Prep

Optimize Meeting Time

Facilitation Tips

Prepare the Room and Yourself

Lighting

  • Make sure room is well lit
  • Use front and side lighting; avoid bright backlighting
  • Use natural light or overhead light to brighten the room
  • Minimize glare and pull the shades if necessary (especially with backlighting)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepare Your Technology

Internet

  • Conduct a dry-run to test your Internet connection and check speed at http://speakeasy.net/speedtest
  • Consider upgrading internet service: minimum download – 10 mbps, minimum upload – 4 mbps. Use Speakeasy (above) to test

Videoconferencing Software

  • Download and test the software at least 30 minutes before the meeting starts
  • Download and install the videoconferencing provider’s software application (if available) rather than participate in meeting through an internet browser

Framing the Camera

  • Position camera at eye level
  • Place external webcam on top of primary monitor
  • If webcam is built-in to computer (e.g., laptop, iMac, etc), use the computer’s main monitor as primary monitor
  • Position camera or yourself so your head is within 10% of the top of the screen (“headroom”)
  • Center yourself horizontally

Audio Settings

  • Test microphone before meeting starts (practice with a friend or in an empty online room)
  • Test speakers/audio
  • Use headset to mitigate ambient noise and feedback

Facilitation Prep

  • Develop and circulate an agenda and reference materials before the meeting
  • Practice (and use) the document sharing features of the videoconference service
  • Explore videoconferencing options to record the meeting
  • Determine whether you want to use features such as polling, raise hand, and chat; if so, turn those settings on in your meeting settings

Optimize Meeting Time

  • BE ON TIME!!
  • Join the meeting three to five minutes before start (if possible)
  • Offer a call-in option for those with phone access only
  • Name a notetaker and facilitator
  • “Call the roll”: Formal government meetings – literally call the roll. Other meetings – identify participants to determine who is missing/present
  • Review the ground rules and the meeting process
  • Identify agenda presenters (owners), review agenda and how attachments connect to the topics
  • Call on participants
  • Introduce yourself before you talk (e.g., “Hi, it’s Steve. I have a question/comment…”)
  • Look into the camera when talking
  • Limit background distractions. Avoid reading emails, working on non-meeting related documents or perusing news articles or social media
  • Manage your microphone. Speak in a normal voice (don’t SHOUT!). Mute when not speaking, unmute before speaking

Facilitation Tips

  • Establish and abide by the “talk-traffic” guidelines. Avoid speaking at the same time; raise hand and/or say “I have a comment” during a lull; use “Chat” features if comment is directed at one person
  • Keep presentations short
  • Invite each participant to provide input
  • Ask: What would improve the next meeting?
  • Summarize high-level themes (follow-up memo or email)
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