More than 11 million meetings are held every day around the world. Some of them have moved into the vector of online meetings, due to the demand for remote work and an increase in the number of freelancers. This is the reason for the emergence of a huge number of types of virtual meetings: interviews, business meetings between superiors and subordinates, personal meetings, webinars, online corporate events. Each of them has its own characteristics and etiquette.
And if virtual meetings within the company are a headache for management, which must choose a model for holding them and inform all employees about the rules, then freelancers have no one to tell about it. We have compiled a whole guide on the rules for a successful online meeting especially for freelancers.
Why virtual meetings are better
Today, to hold a meeting, it is not necessary to be with all employees under the same roof. The format of virtual meetings allows you to communicate with your partners online, regardless of their location. Working communication online opens up many opportunities for freelancers:
- Stay connected - anytime, anywhere. If you have a laptop/tablet/mobile device with a large screen and an uninterrupted Internet connection, you can communicate with customers from anywhere in the world. Today, almost every city has a coworking space - a mini-office for one day, where you can work at least every day. It is also convenient for many to work from cafes and at home. Also, applications are constantly being developed for more comfortable communication and work.
- Increase productivity. Thanks to the tools available in the video conferencing tools, you can brainstorm and save all the data. For example, whiteboards, notepads, file sharing or even screen sharing are available. Technology also allows you to connect the microphone according to the conversation plan, so that each participant in the meeting can express their opinion at the right time.
- Set a specific communication model. You yourself can adjust the topic and plan of the conversation by offering them to your opponents. This will eliminate the waste of time on empty conversations.
In addition, several people can connect to an online meeting at once, which is important for large freelance projects.
Rules of etiquette
Any meeting is held according to certain rules - online meetings are no exception. There are minimum rules of etiquette that a freelancer must adhere to.
It is not necessary to wear a business suit with a tie and do styling. It is enough to put on a clean jacket and comb your hair. If you are going to communicate with representatives of a large company, it is better to appear in front of the camera in a shirt. This will show your professionalism and serious intentions.
See what's around
Pay attention to your workplace. There should not be anything superfluous on it. Also look behind you. The background also matters - there should not be dirty things, scattered children's toys or an unmade bed.
If you need to fix the situation urgently, and the house is a complete mess, use the proposed background in the video conferencing tool.
Lighting and microphone
Your face should be clearly visible in the camera, for this it is important to adjust the lighting. The same goes for the microphone. Make sure it works and don't forget to turn it off during a conversation when your opponent is talking. In this way, you show respect for all participants in the conversation, which will not go unnoticed.
Before the meeting, be sure to run a test call and evaluate the quality of light and sound.
Greeting and diction
If there are several people at the meeting, be sure to greet everyone and introduce yourself when you start talking. Express your thoughts clearly and speak every word clearly so that no one stops you and asks you again.
Never eat during the meeting. The only thing - put a glass and a bottle of water on the desktop, they will come in handy. And stopping a meeting just because your throat is dry is disrespectful.
Do not be distracted
When a conversation starts, you must immerse yourself in it. Don't check your email, don't read a book, don't get distracted by anything - just listen. Otherwise, you may miss something important and lose the thread of the conversation - this is disrespectful and may result in negative consequences for you.
Don't be late
Never be late for virtual meetings. Set yourself a reminder calendar and set a notification time 15 minutes before the start. That's enough to get ready.
8 tips for a successful online meeting
1. Is it possible to resolve the issue without an online meeting?
Some questions are easier to solve in correspondence. For example, when you need to ask just a couple of questions to the customer or clarify something. A face-to-face meeting is always a framework: check-in, dress code, proper view of the work area, etc., which requires advance preparation. But! If the customer himself insists on negotiations via videoconference - do not contradict him, it is better to spend half an hour preparing and talking for 5 minutes than to lose the client.
2. Treat with understanding
Unfortunately, not all participants in an online meeting can afford to turn on the camera or fully comply with the rules of etiquette. Try to treat them with understanding and not insist. Yes, video communication is an opportunity to see a person and evaluate his body language, but the most important thing is the essence of the conversation. Understanding on your part will help build trust and your opponent will definitely encourage you in the future.
Regardless of the number of people who will attend the meeting, it is important to make a plan for its conduct. This will allow you to bring the main questions forward, reduce the time of the entire conversation, find an opportunity for each of the participants to speak, and throw out everything unnecessary.
Announce the plan before the start of the meeting and stick to it. Whether you’re meeting with existing clients or potential customers, prepare a presentation to ensure you cover your most important topics and give your audience much-needed visual context.
4. Use a computer or laptop
Many freelancers and clients prefer to host conferences right from their mobile device. Despite the more convenient functionality, this is a bad idea. Use only a computer or laptop for online meetings. This will enable you to get a clearer picture, optimal sound, perform screen recording and take notes. When communication is carried out via a smartphone, it is very difficult to even stabilize the picture. But if this is a quick meeting or the customer himself insists on being contacted by phone, agree, because. the customer is always right!
5. Turn off notifications
Be sure to turn off all notifications while checking the picture and sound quality. They are very distracting during a conversation, and you always want to check what and who wrote. In addition, when you provide your screen to all participants in the conversation, and you receive personal messages, the customer is unlikely to like it. Activate Do Not Disturb on your computer and turn off all notifications for the duration of the meeting.
6. Look at the camera
When talking, always look at the camera and not at the computer screen. This is only appropriate if you are taking notes and your interlocutors know about it. In other cases, it will indicate your disinterest in the conversation and undermine the working relationship.
7.Shorten the conversation
More than 35% of workers spend 2 - 5 hours a day on meetings and calls, but achieve nothing. Yes, long conversations are not only exhausting, but often do not carry a semantic load. Try to limit the meeting to a maximum of 45 minutes. If more time is needed, take a break for 10 minutes and return to the conversation. But it is better to plan the conversation and try to shorten it in advance. This will allow you and your opponent to quickly discuss the main details and get back to work.
At the end of the conversation, talk about the main points of the meeting. For example, what tasks are set and what ways to solve them are proposed. If you are asked to take minutes of the meeting, let me know when you can provide it. Be sure to thank the interlocutors for their time.
Freelancers are locked into online meetings. This is not only a convenient way to interact with clients and colleagues, but also a productive way to resolve any issues. The main task is to correctly approach the implementation of engaging virtual meetings. We have offered a guide to organizing them for freelancers. Use the rules of etiquette and 8 tips to make your online meetings more successful.
About The Author
Eliza Medley is an experienced writer and psychologist. She is actively interested in management, new technologies, and writing motivational articles. And also trying to go with time with modern trends. Inspires people with her work to learn new things and reach new heights.