Legal Mentorship

The Don’ts Of Virtual Meetings

Though virtual platforms like Zoom, Microsoft teams and Google Meets became popular at the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings are now an essential part of our lives because of the convenience they bring to the human life. Human beings across the globe can communicate real time at a minimal cost.

Whereas the gains made are plausible, certain habits have cropped up that have made virtual meetings uncomfortable for participants. It is always fun and games until you are trending for your mishaps in professional e-platforms. To save those involved from the embarrassment and discomfort, the following things should be avoided when attending virtual meetings:

1.DON’T have your microphone on

Unless you are speaking, mute your microphone. This is basic online protocol, that may sometimes escape one’s mind. I know what comes to your mind when I say this is the interruption caused because of the noisy feedback coming from your end.

But you are wrong, what comes to mind when I think of having my microphone on is the kind of conversations one might have that they would want to remain private. Most of us have been privy to leaked videos of virtual meetings where conversations of participants who failed to mute their microphones, have featured in the virtual meetings. To save yourself from this embarrassment, master the art of being on mute unless you are speaking. If you are on mute, this icon will always appear on your screen  . And if you are not on mute, this icon will appear on your screen .

2. DON’T have your video on

This is another faux pas that you might not be new to. Unless it’s an official meeting where you are required to have your video on, have it off. Turn it on only if you are sure your mind will be present and you will conduct yourself professionally throughout the meeting.

If your video is off, this icon will always appear on your screen  . And if your video is on, this icon will appear on your screen . Having your video off not only protects you, but saves other participants from the discomfort of what might be displayed from your end. Who has attended a virtual meeting or seen a trending video of very lurid content that they wish they could erase from their memory? I have.

3. DON’T touch a feature you don’t understand

Since virtual platforms are powered by technology, their features are often upgraded to ensure these applications are up to date with the technological trends. This explains why sometimes we interact with a feature that was not on the e-platform during the previous virtual meeting. Nevertheless, I assure you that the AGM is not the appropriate time to test these features because things might take a turn for the worse. Remember the famous video of someone who ended up having a cat face during an important council meeting? As much as it was hilarious, I am sure the subject of our amusement found that very embarrassing.

The best way to explore these features is when you receive notifications of the upgrades. If you miss this then in your own time, research on what piqued your curiosity before actually experimenting.

4. DON’T use unstable internet

Trust me, it is not lost on me that having stable internet is a privilege to most of us. However, by logging on to a virtual meeting using unstable internet; you might miss out on an important presentation, other participants might have a difficult time getting you when you are speaking or you might drop off the meeting every now and again. With time, this becomes frustrating and underwhelming especially when you are a facilitator or panelist; which might result to loss of concentration or participants ending their call.

If you don’t want to sing “Can you hear me?” throughout the meeting, then get your internet in order before the meeting. One way of doing this is checking your internet connection and testing its speed. This will also enlighten you on what activities to refrain from during the meeting, such as putting your video on.

5. DON’T be inappropriately dressed

There is no standard for dressing appropriately. It’s upon you to know the event and your audience to determine what would be appropriate. Ordinarily this shouldn’t matter if you won’t turn on your video. But sometimes things that we weren’t prepared for, happen. The person who was to facilitate the meeting has unstable internet so everything falls back to you or, everyone is directed to turn on their video.

Being prepared saves you the humiliation of attending a formal virtual meeting in your pajamas or work out clothes just because you anticipated having your video off. And the worst part is you can never say “I hadn’t anticipated turning on my video” because “You knew the nature of the meeting” might be thrown back at you. So yeah, it’s better to be safe than sorry because sometimes your reputation depends on it.

6. DON’T be in an unfriendly environment

Always attend your virtual meeting in a place where there are minimal noise disruptions. When you have feedback from your end, it becomes difficult for other participants to understand the point you are trying to make. Where the feedback exceeds your voice, then attention shifts to what is in the background. So, when you hear discrete giggles or gasps, it’s highly likely that something hilarious or shocking was heard in your background. The horror!!!! Right? Since, the notice is usually sent in advance, log onto the meeting at place where there will be minimal distractions. If this is impossible, then request to make your contributions in the chat box.

It has often been stated that experience is the best teacher. However, this is one of those instances where no one wants to learn through experience. Though accidents happen, we can practice mindfulness so that these practices become second nature to us. I will leave you with these questions from Cindy Ann Peterson to ponder on:

“…Ask these three questions:

  1. Does it demonstrate personal respect for the position you hold?
  2. Does it demonstrate respect for your peers?
  3. Does it demonstrate respect for the institution of which you are a part?”
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