While virtual meetings are in no way a new concept, hosting one brings its own challenges and can be a daunting prospect for any inexperienced person.
You have to consider any potential issues that could arise from who is joining, preparing speakers, and so you want as few avoidable issues as possible in order to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Fortunately, however, the majority of your fears are likely exaggerated, and it really is not as hard as it sounds to host a successful virtual meeting. In an attempt to help put your mind at ease, below are a few things you need to think about to effectively prepare for a virtual conference call.
The technical aspects to consider
The first part of a virtual conference call that you will need to think about is the technical aspect. As you can imagine, the technical side of things is fairly essential so you will want to make sure everything is in order for both yourself, your speakers, and any participating members.
Firstly you will need to have thoroughly tested your internet connection. Without a relatively high speed and a stable internet connection, you will be unable to hear what people are saying, much less contribute to the meeting yourself.
Ideally, you want a hardwired connection to your router, but in the event that is not possible, try to have a line of sight with it instead as any walls or objects between you can cause interference and are liable to affecting your connection.
If you share a home with anyone, it is also a good idea to ask that they avoid streaming videos or downloading anything for the duration of the meeting, as that can also affect your connection.
Camera and Video
Practically all modern laptops have a built-in camera, and even if you don’t use a laptop, chances are that you already have a webcam anyway.
However, do not rely on your laptop to do all the work, open up your camera app, and find a good spot to sit in making sure that there are no shadows obscuring your face.
It’s also worth noting that you should use natural light if possible, and you should avoid having a light source on camera as it will affect the overall quality of your video.
Next up is your audio and again, if you are using a laptop you will likely already have a built-in mic and speakers.
However, while a built-in camera can work fine, we strongly recommend against using the laptop’s audio capabilities and instead purchase an external microphone and a pair of headphones.
The external mic will cut down on the amount of background noise that is picked up, and the headphones will prevent any sound from your speakers being fed back into your mic for the rest of the meeting to hear as an echo.
What people can see behind you may, at first, seem like an unimportant aspect of virtual meetings, but you should take precautions to change it.
Seeing into someone’s home can be distracting, especially if they have family members, housemates, or pets walking around behind them, so we recommend using a virtual background to prevent this.
Check out Hello Backgrounds collection of office backgrounds for zoom and choose from hundreds of available options.
Whether you want to hide potentially sensitive information, keep your private life private, or even if you want to mask the untidy scene behind you, virtual backgrounds are a great tool and should be used whenever possible.
Recording Your Call
Finally, the last technical aspect you should consider is whether or not you would like to record your meeting. This is one advantage that virtual meetings have over their face-to-face counterparts as it allows you to start recording at the touch of a button.
While this may not be the best idea in situations where privacy is important, it is a great feature for general meetings that can be used to help anyone unable to stay up to date with current events.
The practical aspects to consider
Once you have tested and prepared the technical aspects of your meeting, even though it is online, there are still some practical aspects to consider. These are more to keep things moving along smoothly content-wise rather than avoiding technical issues but are important nonetheless.
Make A Plan
Having a plan is an important part of any meeting preparation, but more so for online conference calls. This is because people are far more likely to get bored or distracted when they are in the comfort of their own home.
To prevent things from going off track and the meeting being dragged out longer than necessary, it is essential that you create a plan or an agenda.
Your agenda can be timed if you like, but the important thing is that you at least include the reason for the meeting, the topics you want to go over, and the overall goal you want to attain by the end.
Prevent Distractions Whenever Possible
Last and not least it is important that you and all other participants in your meeting take steps to prevent potential distractions. Do this by silencing your phone and turning off any computer notifications, as well as isolating yourself in a room by yourself if possible.
Unforeseen problems can always come up, but taking steps to avoid distractions goes a long way in having your meeting be successful and productive without dragging on for too long.