Ten Tips for Success with Online Meetings

27 Mar, 2020 By: Lynn Allen

From simplifying your CAD environment to smiling, here are ten simple ways you can improve your online meeting experience when you’re working from home.


Tip 5: Be an Attentive Listener

I will be the first to tell you that online meetings with video cameras turned on are ten times more effective than those where the video cameras are off. The connection between those in attendance is immediately improved. And when the cameras are off, nobody can tell who is and isn’t paying attention, so are vulnerable to a variety of “weapons of mass distraction”: Facebook, email, Netflix, the dog, you name it! So if you find yourself on camera, be courteous and pay attention to the speaker. Don’t tune out, answer email, or surf the Internet while on camera.

Tip 6: Look into the Camera When Talking

When you’re in a face-to-face meeting, you talk to people’s faces (well, I hope you do). When you are online, you need to try and reenact the same experience by looking into your webcam, not just at your screen. Pretend the webcam is a person! This will definitely take practice, but you will maintain people’s interest longer if you can master this skill.

And make sure the camera is pointed down toward you (rather than up at you); I can’t tell you how many nostrils I’ve seen online! Got a laptop? Lift it up by setting it on a box or stack of books if you want to look your best (plus, it will be easier for you to look into the camera).

Never use your camera? At the very least, please take the time to add your picture to the app. This small addition will improve your connection with others in your online meeting.

Tip 7: Invest in Decent Hardware

If you believe you will be holding more and more online meetings, then do yourself a big favor and invest in some good hardware (it doesn’t take much). I’m an extremist: I use a Jabra headset for my non-video calls and switch to my Yeti microphone when I’m on camera. I even invested in a ring light so I look my best when on camera. I also prefer a separate webcam (Logitech) that I can place up above my computer (it’s just much more flattering — ask any Selfie King or Queen) and prevents that all-too-familiar fish-eye distortion. (Now you know all my secrets!) You certainly don’t need to go that far, or to spend a lot of money, but make sure you are working with some decent lighting and sound equipment. (And no, I didn’t get paid to plug anybody’s hardware or software — but it’s never too late, Logitech, Yeti, Zoom, and Jabra!)

Tip 8: Close Excess Apps and Notifications

I recently watched a presentation with thousands of people in attendance, and the presenter’s calendar and email notifications kept going off while he was speaking. He received a Skype notification right in the middle of his presentation — it was so distracting! And when he needed to switch from one app to another, he had about 15 different apps open, so we waited ever so patiently while he hunted and pecked for the correct one. Don’t be that guy! If you know you are going to be sharing your screen at any point, do yourself a favor and shut everything down except for what you will need for your meeting.

Tip 9: Clean Up Your CAD Environment

If you’re going to be sharing drawings or models during a meeting, try to eliminate as much of the clutter on your screen as possible. You want the focus to be on your design, not on your user interface (UI)! Turn off or close up excess palettes, Feature manager, toolbars, etc. — leaving only what you need to control the display (if you’re just showing a design or model). Ctrl+0 rids the screen of much of the UI in many 2D CAD apps.

Tip 10: Smile!

It’s a simple tip — but probably the most valuable of all. If people can see you on camera, that smile will immediately build a connection with the others in attendance. And did you know that a smile still shines through, even if you aren’t on camera? I used to do an exercise where I would turn away from my students and ask them if I were smiling or not while I was presenting; they could always tell, even though they couldn’t see my face. Smiles come through in our tone of voice and our attitude, and they will give you a better online meeting experience!

Whether you're on camera or not, smiling will enhance your connection with other participants. Image source: WavebreakmediaMicro/

So there you have it: ten simple ways you can dramatically boost your chances of success with online meetings. Now go out there and blow them away with your masterful meeting skills! And stay safe!

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