Well, life has definitely changed in the last few months hasn't it? Chances are, if you're still working (or even if you're not!) a lot of your social interaction is now taking place over the internet on programmes and applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Face Time.
I don't know about you, but I'm so thankful for the internet in times like these. Can you imagine being in lockdown and social isolation without being able to pick up your phone and message or chat face-to-face (via the internet), or even order those earrings you definitely deserve after 7 weeks of isolation..?!
As we're easing in to and getting more and more used to working from home, scheduling meetings remotely, only getting your top half presentable and then keeping children and other animals quiet and occupied during such meetings is becoming our new normal.
The last thing you want is to feel the "I'm not ready!" pang.
So, when you do get the meeting notification pop up and you know you have to turn up presentable and visible - when leaving your video feed off just isn't an option - the last thing you want is to feel the "I'm not ready!" pang.
Follow these tips and make sure you turn up ready, presentable and prepared to nail your next online meeting!
Tip 1: Face a window; Get lit!
This is perhaps going to be easier if you're using your phone to join a meeting as it can travel around the house with you. But, anywhere that's light and bright with ensure you're seen properly and well exposed; there's not too much or too little light.
We can't always help where our computer or temporary desk is set up, but make sure the main source of light is facing you, ideally, or if that's not possible, to the side of you will work fine.
Don't have the window behind you; This can put your face in shadow as your phone or webcam adjusts to the brightness of the window, meaning your face will be underexposed.
Tip 2: Dress for the occasion; Be prepared.
And I don't just mean your top half. Being prepared for your remote meeting means being mentally prepared too. If you've only prepared your top half, you're only half ready, right?! Getting dressed for work and doing your hair and makeup helps to ensure you feel ready to work, be present and involved and puts you in that mindset to get the job done.
And hey, at least you'll be the best dressed person on your daily walk up the road!
Make sure to also get ready in plenty of time. We're all guilty of leaving it to the last minute and it's even easier now the office is in the room next door(!), but make sure you're sat at your computer a good 5-10 minutes before the meeting starts. This will help to account for any technical issues, random updates your computer suddenly decides it needs, and will allow you time to really get in to 'work-mode' without getting to the meeting late and flustered.
Tip 3: Consider your background.
As I mentioned above, you may not always get to choose where your computer or new office is set up. But, it's a good idea to always be aware of what your colleagues and clients are seeing behind you when they're looking at you through your webcam or phone.
A neutral wall or background is always preferable to the dogs fighting in the background or the washing up waiting by the sink.
So, have a look around and notice what your webcam is seeing. Tidying up and putting a few things away (or just hiding them in another room... we won't tell anyone!) can do the world of good and make everything look cleaner, slicker and more professional.
Tip 4: Virtual & blurred backgrounds.
If it's just not feasible to change your background, programmes like Zoom and Teams offer a range of options to change or alter your background.
These include blurring your background; Using a strange mix of VR and other clever algorithms, the programme will keep you clear and distinct, while blurring out your background so that any images or people are indistinguishable. Be warned though, that Teams does warn that this might not prevent any sensitive information from being visible to other meeting participants.
Zoom also offers you the option to change your background, with a range of built-in designs and images to choose from. You can even play videos (like the Northern Lights) behind you. There is also the option to add your own and really personalise your meeting background.
Just be careful who's seeing which image; adding a Joe Exotic background to your monthly shareholder meeting might not go down so well.
These are my 4 simple tips to make your next online meeting as smooth as can be. While we adjust to a way of life which may never be the same as the one we lived before, life may well be moving to a more internet-based phase, where meetings and parties are held online without the need for large gatherings or unnecessary travel.
I hope you can take this opportunity to adjust, reset and flourish on whatever path you choose.
“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher”