Some tips on using video meetings

Laptop and cup of tea

The ongoing (albeit slightly loosened) COVID-19 lockdown continues to impact on the way we do business, including in the charity sector. One of those impacts is of course a massive upturn in the use of video conferencing facilities from home.

This week (early June 2020) I’ve been working with a client charity to prepare papers for their AGM. It’s going to be run using Zoom, so we wanted to get good information about the platform, and some video conferencing etiquette, out to the charity’s membership alongside the statutory paperwork for the AGM. It’s important to this charity (as it should be for all) that members are still able to engage and take part in the governance processes of the organisation, but it’s also important to not be assumptive about the levels of technical expertise and comfort amongst stakeholder; some definitely need more hand-holding than others!

The result was the production of a short guide to using Zoom, from home, as a participant in a meeting organised by someone else (there’s more to learn if you are acting as a host). I thought it might be useful to share this, so here you are:

Zoom guide

Click to download the ZOOM guide as a PDF

Also included were a few general tips for video meeting etiquette and again I thought these would be worth sharing. For experienced users these might seem very basic, but for those new to the “new way of meeting” they will hopefully provide some guidance and confidence, whether talking to friends, family, work colleagues or business associates. Here’s my top ten, there are links to more information in the guide.

And here I also compare things with preparing for a real world meeting to demonstrate that, when it comes down to it, applying common sense to video meetings is all that is needed.

Virtual meeting from home computer Real life meeting equivalent
1. Make sure the hardware and connection is all working by setting up and testing beforehand, and log in on time. Make sure you are well prepared for the meeting, at the venue and ready to start on time.
2. Adjust your camera angle so that you are looking out at eye level, not down your nose at people. Pay attention, don’t be distracted by other work, and look into the camera. Engage people with your body language as well as words. Pay attention, don’t be distracted by other work, and look at participants as you speak and listen.
3. Remove any confidential or inappropriate items from the camera view. Remove any confidential or inappropriate items from the room.
4. Avoid the camera facing any bright lights or a window; this will turn you into a silhouette! Make sure the room is appropriately lit and that any speaker platform is visible to all.
5. Be respectful of the fact that only one participant should be talking at any time. Be respectful of the fact that only one participant should be talking at any time.
6. If you are speaking, remember time is limited and others may want to express a view. If you are speaking, remember time is limited and others may want to express a view.
7. Limit background noise by turning off your music, TV set, and so on. Ensure the meeting is not disturbed by other activities at the office or venue.
8. Adhere to any protocols the meeting host sets out. Adhere to any protocols the meeting host sets out.
9. Wear appropriate clothing; even from your dining room table appearance reflects professionalism. Dress appropriately for the meeting, e.g. wear business attire if appropriate.
10. Only leave the meeting if you truly must, and inform the host before you do so. Only leave the meeting if you truly must, and excuse yourself properly before you do so.