27 Mar Virtual meeting etiquette and platforms
Webinars, video-conferencing and phone meetings are quickly becoming our new normal. For our Beyond Business Group members, video-conferencing will be essential for meetings in coming weeks and months. So we have put together a list of some free video-conferencing platform options, as well as guidelines for virtual meeting etiquette for you to use.
Virtual meeting etiquette
In a virtual setting, we don’t have the full benefit of body language, so we have to work extra hard to pay attention and make sure we are involving everyone (especially those introverts!).
To ensure a smooth experience:
- Be on time.
- Test all your technology (including camera/video, WiFi and screen sharing) before the meeting.
- Make sure you are in a quiet area.
- Have a look at what your video is showing someone – hide what you don’t want to share!
- Do the pre-work, read the agenda, and come prepared with your activities, questions and ideas.
- Don’t work on other tasks (like checking email) during the virtual meeting.
- Practice active listening – turn off your phone/notifications and any apps that may distract you or make a noise.
- Don’t stare at your phone, clean the room, move around while other people are sharing – we can see you!
- Give everyone a chance to contribute.
- Don’t interrupt other people when they’re speaking,or attempt to speak over them.
- For regular meetings, you might want to share the role of chair/facilitator.
- When in doubt, just practice common courtesy. People want to be heard, seen, and respected during an online meeting –just like they do everywhere else.
Note: Our Beyond Business Groups Modules are already set up with pre-work, a checklist and a really specific meeting agenda that is focused on the content for the month. So many of the etiquette bases are covered.
Overview of the best free video-conferencing software
Zoom Meetings has lots of bases covered. In the free version you can hold either one-on-one meetings, or group meetings involving up to 100 people, 49 people on a screen at once. However, for meetings with three or more participants, there is a 40 minute time limit. But you don’t have to have the app to join a meeting – if you are invited you just open the link.
There is desktop and application sharing, whiteboarding and annotations, and lots of other features you can pay for if you want to upgrade.
Skype was the go to before all the other tools arrived. With Skype you can have up to 50 people on a call but this number depends on your device.
There is a screen sharing option, and to make it easier to focus on who you are speaking to, there is the ability to automatically blur backgrounds. Other handy features include live subtitling of conversations, and the ability to record chats.
In Hangouts you can video call up to ten people at one time or 150 via Hangouts Chat. There are little in the way of options, but there is speed and convenience. Hangouts can be used in your browser, and there are apps available for Chrome, OS, iOS and Android.
The free version enables you to hold HD video meetings with up to 100 participants and to take advantage of options such as screen sharing and private chat rooms.
When you sign up for an account, you are assigned a personal URL that can be used to manage all of your meetings, schedule video conferences, and access the recording you have made.
Though mostly used for catching up with friends, if you and your tribe are Apple users – whether Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad – video calls can be made over WiFi or mobile networks (be aware of network charges in doing so, as the data usage is high). If you have an Apple account, FaceTime comes as part of the package and you can call anyone in your address book who also has an Apple device and a call request will show up at their side.
Whatever the option you choose, the same etiquette applies. Every time you get the chance to use a new interface you are learning something new and can decide on your platform of choice.