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Be the Star of Your Conference Call with 10 Pro Tips for Remote Meetings

Since more and more Americans are being quarantined, many of us have been plunged into the world of working remote when we weren’t expecting it. One reality for many of us when it comes to remote working is video conferencing — being in remote meetings over Google Hangouts, Zoom, Go to Meeting or Slack Video Conferencing.

happy guy waves at a computer

Just what is and is not okay in a digital meeting? To some extent, the same things that are and are not okay in face-to-face office meetings. But a few tweaks can help you perform at your very best. Want more targeted instruction? We’re hosting remote meetings trainings for clients who want to get comfortable presenting remotely.

Eat Before the Meeting

You probably wouldn’t eat in client meetings anyway, but in some casual meetings with just your coworkers, a protein bar or packet of crackers is usually okay when you’re at the office — but that’s not the case during a call or video meeting. Because the mic is right by your mouth, eating during a video call is very distracting. Want to break the rules and grab a snack anyway? Mute your microphone so your coworkers won’t hear you crunching. Speaking of …

Embrace Your Mute Button

Some meeting software will automatically mute whoever isn’t speaking, but it’s not foolproof (and it’s not available on all meeting software). If you’re in your car, if something loud is playing in the background, or if your children are playing in the next room, be sure to mute your headphones; that noise is often amplified for the people on the call with you.

Grab a Pair of Headphones

Using headphones is certainly not required, but if you’re listening to the call through your computer speakers, the noise from the call itself will feed back into the speakers and cause an echo for your coworkers. Wearing headphones helps the call sound better for everyone.

Be on Time (or Early)

Being on time is important for any meeting, but in a remote meeting, if you’re not there, the organizer has to worry about whether or not technical difficulties are preventing you from attending, so lateness is even more distracting. Arriving a couple of minutes early will also give you time to test and troubleshoot your mic and speakers. If you have to be late, let the organizer know ahead of time.

Don’t Work on Your Novel

If you’re using your built-in computer mic instead of connecting a separate one, try not to type any more than you absolutely have to — everyone on the call will be able to hear your keystrokes. To solve this, you can mute your microphone while you type or use another mic instead of the built-in. (Your separate mic doesn’t have to be fancy; there may even be one built into your headphones.)

Watch Your Back(drop)

What else are your team members seeing on your screen? Especially if you’re working remote because of COVID-19, most people will be understanding and not require your remote working area to be spotless, but be sure your coworkers aren’t seeing anything they shouldn’t, like a pile of dirty laundry. Ideally, you’ll be in an office setting or in front of a plain wall. (Some meeting software will automatically create a professional backdrop for you.) It also helps to face natural light; if the light source is behind your back instead of in front of you, you’ll look like a silhouette on screen.

Dress for Success

Whatever you do in a video call with your colleagues or with a client will reflect on how professional you seem (or don’t seem) when you’re back in the office as well. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie if you normally wouldn’t at work, but it’s a good idea to look pulled together. (And don’t wear the same thing two days in a row if you’ll be in meetings with the same people.)

Talk to the Group

Everyone can hear what you’re saying and see what you’re doing because you’re front-and-center, so it’s best not to text, talk to people off-camera or work on other things if you can help it. 

Make an Entrance … Quietly

If you’re late to a meeting, you don’t have to announce that you’ve joined the call; anyone on the call can see that. Just slip in and wait for a moment to speak. It’s also best practice not to request a recap until after the call; unless your input is essential, don’t expect everyone else to sit through what you missed.

If Something Goes Wrong, Keep Calm

Especially when we’re working from home unexpectedly, all sort of things happen that wouldn’t at the office. Your kid can wander in. Your dog may bark. Your computer may stop working. Roll with the punches as calmly as possible while working to fix the situation. After all, losing your temper will reflect on your professionalism more than something small like not using your headphones ever would.

Don’t worry too much about getting things perfect right away. So many of us are just figuring out this remote working situation, and wrestling with technology while participating in a meeting can be frustrating. If you wish you had someone to walk you through it, we can help — we’re offering weekly trainings on getting comfortable in remote meetings.


About Carrie

Carrie has been copyediting and writing for fifteen years. Her skills were forged in the newsroom at The Birmingham Post-Herald and she’s a huge book nerd (she moonlights as Southern Living’s book reviewer), but a love of paper and ink hasn’t stopped her from mastering the digital world as well: She’s had a blog pretty much since they existed, and she’s run social media for companies big and small. Carrie’s always ready to take on a new communication challenge, lecture us about the proper use of semicolons, or defend the fact that her Instagram account is filled with selfies.

See more articles from Carrie Rollwagen

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