The ability to hold remote online meetings at home can be very convenient. But it also offers a whole list of possibilities for very awkward moments.
Whether you have children, pets, babies, or even a window behind you displaying nature, you have all the ingredients for a recipe for disaster.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common problems that can lead to troublesome online meetings and how to prevent them.
Online Meetings: What’s Possible Wrong?
One of the most famous examples of such an awkward moment happened with Professor Robert Kelly when he was interviewed live on TV by the BBC.
One of Kelly’s young children walked into his office during an interview, like his baby in a walker. Finally, his angry wife bursts into the room to get the kids out of the room.
Not only was it an awkward moment of an online meeting, it was streamed live and broadcast around the world to millions of viewers.
Prevent embarrassing moments for online meetings
There are ways to customize your workspace, computer, and the meeting itself to reduce the likelihood of any unpleasant events.
If you follow all these guidelines, you can be sure that all your online meetings will go smoothly and without any “memorable” moments.
Block your camera when not in use
There are many safety reasons why you should keep your webcam covered when not in use. But beyond security, you also don’t want to show your video at the start of an online meeting until you’re ready.
There have been stories of people being caught meeting in the bathroom because their webcam was pointed at the open bathroom door.
This can happen for several reasons.
- The webcam turns on automatically when the meeting starts.
- You forget that the camera turns on during a meeting.
- You thought the meeting was over, but the camera is still on while people are in touch
The easiest way to prevent all of these scenarios is to use the slider cover on your webcam, if you have one. If not, keep duct tape handy to cover the camera when not in use.
Use blinds on back windows
Windows can be a wonderful light source for your office, but when you’re in an online meeting, they can cause a lot of problems.
There are several scenarios that can lead to confusion with windows, so let’s look at three main ones.
You look like a villain
Imagine someone showing up in a meeting and he only looks like a shadow in a darkened room. What will be your first impression of this person?
Most people would be reminded of any number of films in which a villain sits in a dungeon lair and contemplates his next evil plan.
The light coming through the window plays with most webcams, causing them to automatically filter the light, making the entire room appear much darker than it actually is.
The easiest way to solve this problem is to close all the windows behind you with curtains and always keep the curtains or curtains closed during meetings.
Pets love windows
Pets love windows too, and pets and online meetings rarely go together.
If you notice people in the meeting giggling or giggling as you speak, it may be worth looking back.
Chances are, your cat is not up to anything good.
If you’re ready to start an online meeting, get all your pets out of the room so they don’t hide on the windowsill and confuse you during the video conference.
Note. Close your office door (and lock it) to keep out unwanted pets and other intruders.
The outdoors is not always pleasant
Another problem with windows is what happens on the other side of those windows.
Do you really want your coworkers or other meeting attendees to see your neighbor mowing the lawn outside in his pajamas?
You never know who or what is going to walk past the window, so this is another reason to make sure that the window behind you has curtains and you use them.
Speaking of lighting, a well-lit office delivers the best video during a web conference. The best way to achieve perfect lighting is to position the table so that there is a window (with the curtains open) either behind the monitor you are looking at or from the side.
Natural light from the side windows acts in the opposite direction to what the window behind you does. Instead of forcing the webcam to filter light, it emits natural light that the camera picks up.
If your office doesn’t have a window facing the right direction, the next best solution is to include as many overhead lights as you have.
Better yet, use Philips Hue bulbs and set them to maximum brightness.
Arrange before meetings
According to a 2018 study by the University of Michigan, psychologists found that people had negative opinions about people just because of the state of their office.
This discovery is not surprising. However, it’s a shame if you worked all week and just didn’t have time to clear the space around you before this online video meeting. P>
A simple solution is to schedule at least 15 minutes in your calendar before the video call starts. Take this time to pick up all the clutter behind you. At the very least, remove everything the camera sees.
This might not mean that the entire room is clean or that your desk is not cluttered, but if people who come to the meeting don’t see the clutter, they won’t understand.
Hey, the sounds we make
Sound can be your worst enemy during a video conference. There are many ways your microphone can confuse you.
Just think about forgetting that your microphone is on and do one of the following:
- Eat chips or something else crunchy and loud.
- Mumble something negative about a colleague to yourself that everyone can hear.
- A personal side conversation with your spouse or other family member.
- Makes awkward bodily sounds.
All of these scenarios can range from slightly humorous to excruciatingly awkward.
What’s the solution? Always make sure your microphone is muted at the beginning of a meeting if you don’t need to speak, and keep a close eye on your microphone status during a meeting.
Moreover, configure your video conferencing software settings so that the microphone automatically remains muted when you start a meeting.
In Skype, you can find this option in the Settings menu under the Audio & Video section. Just make sure Mute Incoming Calls is turned off.
Most major video conferencing applications have similar microphone settings.
Other helpful advice
If you keep all of the above tips in mind, your video conferencing will run smoothly and smoothly.
There are some other tips that can help with your hangouts:
- Screen sharing. When sharing a screen, do not press the share button until you see the desired screen is highlighted. Every major online conferencing app highlights the screen you choose so you always know which screen you’re about to show. Sharing the wrong screen can cause people to see what you don’t want them to see.
- Embarrassing notifications: Nothing is worse than a colleague sending you a private message while you show your screen during a meeting. Turn off window notifications before every video conference.
- Window placement. A common mistake people make is to place a chat window with everyone’s faces on the screen away from the webcam. Instead, place it on the same screen to make it feel like you’re looking directly at people.
- Virtual background. Most apps like Zoom and Skype now let you choose a virtual background. You can choose from presets or upload your own image and use it as a background. Some apps also let you blur the background, so if you have a bad background for a call, choose virtual.
Have you ever had any unpleasant moments during video conferencing? We’d love to hear your story in the comments section below.