Updated: Apr 29, 2020
We are a few weeks into the "COVID-19 Quarantine" and adjusting well!
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For many of my clients, I typically work remote, so adjusting to a work from home format is an easy transition for me. For many of you however, it may be more difficult. Pets, family members and all sorts of various distractions threaten to take us off task routinely when working from home.
Here are a few suggestions to consider when on video or conference calls:
Don't be too self-conscious about dogs or other pets making noise. It's your home and people understand! We are all in the same boat right now with COVID-19. Do make sure you are paying attention to your package delivery schedule however. Having the FedEx van show up right when you are pitching to your boss or client is not a good idea.
Mute, mute, mute. How many times have I been on calls and well meaning participants are in the back of a cab or in a restaurant and go un-muted. As a meeting, host, mute noisy lines. No one will be offended and the rest of the group will thank you! As participant, if you are in a noisy area, just let people know that you will be on mute until it's your time to participate. Again, people will understand.
If bandwidth on the call starts to break up, be courteous to the other participants and let people know. It's sometimes hard to tell if it's your bandwidth or theirs. Make sure you know how much streaming capability your network has. In a pinch, shut down video and use audio only, or dial in using your cell connection for audio and from your desktop for video. You can always run a speed test on your bandwidth. Any of these work well.
Always have a chat window open to key participants! You can let them know directly when background noise is becoming a problem or if their bandwidth is breaking up. Prompting via chat can also a useful way to make sure minor points are covered or topic changes are handled smoothly.
Make sure to use a good headset or have an asynchronous microphone. Some speakerphones act as both microphone and speaker making it impossible for your voice to be heard while someone else is talking. Introducing yourself at the outset of a call is a great way to do a sound check.
When on video conference, be aware of the lighting, glare and what's in your background. Poor lighting can destroy a video conference. Double check your camera angle and lighting before you join on camera. In many of my video conference, it's acceptable to be on video at the start, but then to shutter your camera if you aren't speaking. Every company culture is different, so don't be shy and just ask what people prefer with respect to staying on camera for 100% of the call.