With the current Covid-19 restrictions, there has been a massive expansion in the use of online meeting software. Much of this software has been around for a while: we have been using Skype to call distant friends and relatives for years, and tools including Zoom and GoToMeeting have an existing user base within the business community. Now everyone is using these tools for for therapy sessions and classes as well as for meetings and keeping up with friends.
Even if you are a regular, it is a good idea to make sure you are all set up before you go online. You can waste a lot of time fiddling at the start of a session and it can be embarrassing if there are a few people in the meeting!
Do I need an app?
Most meeting style platforms work by sending out a “Join” link. When you click the link it opens a browser window and either takes you straight in, or asks you to download an app. Whether this happens seamlessly depends on your device settings. If you get an error, you may have to find and download the app yourself (this has happened to me when I tried to access a Teams meeting from my iPad). Once the app is installed, click on the link again and you should be good to go.
When you receive an invitation to join a meeting using a platform that is new to you, click the link in advance. That way, you can download any apps without losing precious meeting times.
Why can’t anyone hear me?
Almost all modern devices come equipped with a microphone and speakers. If not, you can use the earpiece and microphone set which comes with a mobile phone. Before you go into the meeting, check the privacy setting for your microphone. On a Windows machine, click the windows icon and search for “Microphone Privacy Settings”.
At the top of this page is a switch controlling whether Apps can access your microphone. Make sure this is on. Below this is a list of Microsoft Store apps with switches, which will include the likes of Skype. At the bottom is a single switch controlling desktop apps. Most of the business apps will be in this list. Make sure the app you are using and/ or the browser you are switched on. If you install a new app, it is worth revisiting this page to check the setting.
A lot of meeting software has a mute option, which is useful if you get an interruption. Look for a microphone icon on the screen and check whether it is crossed out. If it is not clearly visible, click on your avatar as this may have options underneath it, or the three dots “more” link if there is one.
Can you see me?
Being able to see the people in your meeting is the one big plus if using an online meeting over a simple phone call. You can either use the camera on your device, or connect up a specialist camera. As with the microphone, it is worth checking privacy settings before you go into the meeting.
Take a few minutes to think about positioning both yourself and your camera.
For a business or professional meeting, you want to be looking at the camera so people can see your face.
- Make sure your camera is pointing at your face and not at the top of your head
- You also want to consider what is behind you. While you don’t need to go for a stark studio backdrop, it is worth positioning yourself so other attendees do not get distracted by family members or the dog!
- Also, if you are using a tablet, make sure you have the camera at the top. If not, everyone will see you from a slightly strange angle.
One word on video: it is this aspect that is going to cause the most strain on your broadband. You may notice a breakup or fuzziness in the image, or bars across it. If it gets too bad, there is generally an option to suppress the video.
All set for your online meeting?
You have the app and have done your checks. Now click to join and enjoy your meeting!