More Tips on Virtual Meetings … It’s the Basics, Baby!

Last week, I had lots of private comments on my blog for online presentations: Etiquette-Zoom Tips for Zoom Meetings for Hosts and Participants  

Some asked if there were more tips to add to the thought pot. Yup, I’ve come with several more:

1. What’s in your background? I admit, sometimes I’m in different spots. For a regular workshop, I’ll be in my offices with a stationary background that has—you guessed it—books. And not just any books, shelves of books of my clients that I’ve had the pleasure to work with.

For my Friendly Friday Coaching that is at 7am Mountain Time, I could be in a wingback chair in my living room, in my library, even outdoors on the deck. My participants know me well, as I do them, and they do each other. Totally casual … but stationary. We are settled in our various comfort zones.

More things to add to your virtual meeting setup list include:

2. Get an attractive room divider. For meetings that are in the “business casual” dress mode, be in a place that has a professional tone to it. I’m not talking an office, but they may be what it should be. Consider getting a nice-looking room divider as your background. It stays put, and there is none of the virtual distortions that many of the virtual backgrounds generate. The flicker becomes a major distraction for anyone who is viewing the screen—both the host and other participants. Viewers’ brains will go on reject. Truthiness: I’ve actually left a meeting as a participant because I couldn’t stand the flicker factor any longer.

3. If you don’t have a ring light, get one NOW. Definitely under $50. As I wrote this, there were several on Amazon for under $30, including THIS. 

Suggestion—the peach tone generates a “warmer” face. And, stay away from windows—it’s difficult to see your facial expressions.


4. Have an external mic. Yes, your computer has a decent microphone–one that works well with friends and family. When you are recording, you need to step up your game. Amazon has lots for under $100 and you plug it into your USB port on your computer. All my recordings for my podcasts are used with this type of mic.




5. Avoid using the microphone air pods. Yes, it’s cool to have your electronics on the invisible side. For your voice, not so. The sound is mediocre. You … speaking clearly and loudly via your computer is a heck of a lot better. My two bits.




6. For those attending any Online meetings –think “eyeball” meetings. Do your eyes meet the others’ eyes on the meeting with you? That means that your CAMERA eye needs to be level with yours. Not on your desk where necks, chins, lips, and noses are dominant. Not on your hairline … eye to eye. Get your screen on with you looking at you. Is it level, eye-to-eye. If not, raise or lower your computer, tablet, monitor, or whatever. And please, don’t use two screens so all anyone sees is the side of your head. Ugh.

7. The cat is in the room … not on the desktop … or the table. We’ve all seen it, the wispy tail, an adorable face that pops up, the cat in the lap. Is it OK? My answer is … it depends. If you are in a family or friend setting, I think just about anything can be OK. If you are strictly in a professional business meeting, I would keep the cat away.

There is an exception for me
. On my Friday mornings with my group coaching, it is common to see three of four cats make an appearance. Some had awesome feather-duster tails; some literally are on their owners’ shoulders sharing early morning hellos. The voices on the Zoom call are familiar and the cats seem to recognize them—obviously, it’s a friendly zone for an appearance. The owner is usually in a conversational mode vs concentrated—stay away, I’m working—body language of its owner. One participant and another who is a close friend have told me that when their cats hear my voice over Zoom, it becomes a magnet—an invitation to join in … and up they come. That’s fine with me. It’s a casual time.

8. Other distractions could be unusual noises and visual surprises. Once you open up your Zoom portal, beware of what you are doing and saying that can be heard or observed before you think others are online. I’ve seen people decide to floss their teeth, pick their teeth, pick their nose, scratch in places that aren’t public, finish get dressing, adjust bras, even boobs, pee, flush toilets, and a variety of unusual noises that the belly can create.

Trust me here. Most computer sound devices will be at the desk or table level. Or your computer on be resting in your lap. We can hear … and see. Not always a good idea.

people-People-PEOPLE … Any online call is visual, oral, physical—it’s a combo. Be aware of yourself and be ready before you go LIVE. Please.

I’m an enthusiastic book coach and consultant who wants face-to-face with my clients. And, we are working together, sharing a screen as they see my work on their books keeps them in the mix and we can work real-time together making sure everything meshes. Online can be great. But … and it’s a big BUT, meeting after meeting online is tiring visually, mentally, and yes, physically. Make it easy for those on the other side.

The savvy presenter does his or her best to create an engaging presentation that meets the needs of the participant. The participant needs to make sure that his or her actions, reactions, and backgrounds are ADDS and no distractions.

What say you?

Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. Often, she must roll up her writing sleeves and become a Book Doctor, juicing up storylines and author words. She empowers authors and works directly with authors who want to be seriously successful and has been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 37 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book PlatformsSnappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers, and How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech. Her personal memoir When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Collectively, her books have earned over 45 book awards. Judith speaks throughout the year at publishing conferences. 

Throughout the year, she holds Judith Briles Book Unplugged in-person and online experiences: Publishing, Speaking, Marketing, and Social Media. All are two-day intensives limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Join Judith live for the “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” podcast on the Toginet Radio Network HERE

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