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myCareerCompanion’s top five ways to ace your next digital meeting.
We don’t have to tell you that the coronavirus has shaken up our social and professional lives, but at myCareerCompanion we like a challenge. We believe that these ‘stay inside times’ provide the perfect opportunity to develop our digital meeting skills. How do you break the ice during an online meeting? And how do you make a good first impression through a screen? In this article, myCareerCompanion shares our five top ways to ace your next digital meeting.
Choose the right tool
Whether it’s a job interview or professional e-meeting, choosing the right online tool is very important. But don’t worry if you’re not a technical wonder, we will guide you through each step.
First of all, if your conversation partner hasn’t indicated beforehand which tool you’ll be using for the meeting, don’t hesitate to ask them or choose one yourself. Some popular video conferencing tools are Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout Meets and Webex by Cisco. Once you know which tool to use, install it properly and test it extensively to make sure that your computer, camera and microphone are all functioning correctly.
You’ll notice that most tools, such as Skype or Zoom, have a mobile as well as a web version. If you can choose, we would advise you to use the computer or web app. Make sure the app you install is up to date and the device you’re using has sufficient battery life. You won’t make the best impression when your battery runs low during a conversation, so double-check that your device is plugged in or fully charged.
Lastly, make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection! If you don’t, be pro-active about it and think about somewhere else you could go for a better connection. Don’t stress out if you experience a technical difficulty; it can happen to anyone but notify the interviewer immediately. It’s better to reschedule the meeting if you can’t hear your conversation partner properly.
Ensure a good setting
A good setting, which is basically your environment, is an integral part of making a good impression during a digital meeting and having it run smoothly for both parties.
To start off, try to find a private place to work. If you can’t, use headphones to minimize background noise. Another advantage to headphones is that they avoid having an echo during the call. Do you have roommates or family who are home as well? Let them know that you’ll be in a meeting ahead of time to minimize interruptions or distractions. If you have pets, make sure they’re in a separate room during the meeting. Remember to switch your mobile phone to silent as well. If something interrupts the conversation, just apologize, these things can happen!
Secondly, clean up the area around you. Check what’s visible in the background before the call and make sure it’s as neutral as possible or that it’s at least work-appropriate. In other words, put away your laundry and take down your boyband posters.
Always opt for video
Non-verbal communication is extremely important. If your internet connection permits it, always opt for a video meeting.
If you do, set up your camera so that it has a clear view of you. Make sure your face is well lit. Natural lighting and side lighting work best. Backlighting can often make it hard to see, so if there’s a window behind you, we would advise you to switch position. Furthermore, don’t sit too far from the camera or too close to it. It’s best to put the camera at eye level. When talking, you should look directly into the camera as much as possible, not at the screen or yourself. This way, your conversation partner will feel like you’re having real eye contact.
The frame should capture your face, but preferably a part of your upper body as well. This is important because your hand gestures support your message. Non-verbal communication is just as important — if not more important — than verbal communication. So, pay attention to your body language and use hand gestures when appropriate. By nodding or saying ‘yes’ every once in a while, you show your interest and reassure your conversation partner that you’re listening.
Just like in a physical job interview or work meeting, you should always hold a professional attitude and look work-appropriate.
We know: one of the best parts about working from home is getting to wear sweatpants all day, but that is definitely not the right move during a video call. Imagine you have to stand up for any reason… So, dress how you would for an in-person meeting: clothes where you feel comfortable and confident in. It’s best to avoid patterns, stripes or extreme colors which may be distracting on camera. Take time to research the company culture so you know which outfit is appropriate. And remember: it’s always better to overdress, than underdress!
After making sure you’ve taken care of the technical side, ensured a good setting and made yourself presentable, take note of the following ground rules for a professional conversation. Be on time: you have no excuse for being late when you’re already at home! Focus on the conversation, and give the interviewer your undivided attention. Don’t read messages or emails during the interview - be respectful and engaged.
If you follow all of our advice to ace your next digital meeting, it'll already go a long way. But remember that the most important part of any meeting, digital or not, is to be yourself. The best way to hold a smooth conversation is to be open-minded, to listen what the other person has to say and to respond in an honest way that suits your personality. Your conversation partner is looking for a genuine conversation with the authentic you. Good luck!