Virtually Awesome: Tips for Being a Fabulous Online Meeting Participant

Have you suddenly been asked to work from home and then received a bazillion online meeting appointments? Not sure how to show up? Here are a few tips to help you remain professional, courteous and productive when you jump onto a screen with your colleagues.  

Tip #1: Prep your Tech 

  • Check the meeting link early to make sure you can get into the online space. (Sometimes the app or software needs to download to your device.)

  • Become familiar with the function of the online meeting space so you can mute yourself and/or turn off your video if something is going on around you (you’ll want to limit visual and auditory distractions for your colleagues).  

  • Silence your notifications on your phone or computer, if possible.

  • Turn off background noises: dishwashers, vacuums, washers/dryers, music or radios.

  • Is it better to use a laptop/desktop or a. handheld device? Again, consider visual distractions: a computer is more stable so if you’re using a phone, be sure to put it in a stand to remove the wiggling and jiggling, which is really hard to watch from the other end! 

  • Choose your meeting view: in Zoom (and likely other similar apps), there are different view options, so choose group/gallery or single speaker depending on what will help you get the most out of your meeting. The gallery view is great if you want to read body language; the speaker view is better if you want to focus on who’s talking or what’s being said.


Tip #2: Visual Considerations

  • Should you sit, stand or walk around? Pay attention to how much you move, sway or fidget (movement can be distracting) and choose where and how to plant yourself so you and your colleagues can focus.

  • Watch your angle: test your camera angle ahead of time to ensure your dirty laundry isn’t in view, and if you talk with your hands, make sure they will be in the frame. Try to avoid pointing the camera up to your nostrils; it’s equivalent to your co-workers lying on the table looking up your nose! 

  • Check your background: too busy can be a distraction; too plain can cause colleagues to worry that you’re in a dungeon! 

  • Dress for success: maintain the same professional standards (or lack thereof) your workplace or clients normally expect. Remember: if you stand up, please be wearing pants. 

  • Lighting: ensure you are lit so you are visible. If you are near a window, you should be facing it, otherwise you’ll be a faceless silhouette.


Tip #3: Shared Experience Considerations

  • Just like for a face-to-face meeting, come prepared: do the prep work and bring what you need.

  • Respect the time allocation: watch your talking or sharing time, and let others have their say too.

  • Food and drink: Would you normally eat or drink during an in-person meeting? Again, consider the impact on your fellow meeting attendees, and behave accordingly. At a minimum, turn off your mic and video if you are eating or slurping...especially if it looks really delicious!

  • Kids, pets and spouses: request their cooperation ahead of time, or secure them in another room. Bribes may be necessary.

  • Help your meeting host out, especially if leading online meetings is new to them. Offer to take notes, keep time, or just ask how else you can help the meeting run smoothly.

If you remember only one thing, let it be this: Assume that everyone can see and hear everything… so make good choices!

Need some help preparing for an online meeting or session? I’m here to help! Reach out to schedule a time, or check my other Virtually Awesome tips at JillyHyndman.Com/Virtually-Awesome.


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