Tips On How To Communicate Effectively During An Online Meeting
One of the workplace skills that any professional must possess nowadays is communicating effectively through online meetings. Since different organizations from around the world are now more open to a remote working set up, many meetings are also conducted virtually. Since you are working with a distributed team, it is important that you communicate well, as the success of the projects or tasks that you are handling depends on it. To know more about how to be an effective online meeting participant, here are some of the tips you can use for your next virtual meeting.
1. Introduce yourself
If you are meeting the participants for the first time, introduce yourself at the start of the meeting. Meanwhile, if you are already familiar with the other participants, announce yourself when you just joined in a small meeting during a pause or when no one else is speaking. If you are using audio-only meetings, say your name before commenting, ask questions, or share your view. This would help attendees to know who is saying what.
2. Remember the name of the participants
Remembering the name of a person shows that you recognize him. When you are joining a meeting, make it a point to remember your fellow attendees’ names. Including someone’s name when you are greeting or responding to questions indicates that your message is addressed specifically to that person. People prefer to be called by their name and not just any kind of ‘alias’ you would want to use for them. This unwritten rule is a customary courtesy.
3. Maintain a professional demeanor
While some may see that participating in virtual meetings from home is less informal, it is not an excuse to forget professional demeanor. Workplace etiquette is still to be observed in online meetings, just like when facing colleagues face-to-face. Good manners and behaving well in a virtual meeting is expected from any professionals.
4. Respond promptly and appropriately
When asked a question, make sure to respond promptly and appropriately. When you do, it reflects that you are interested and attentive in the conversation. Share your comments at the right time if you think that it is relevant and crucial for the participants to know. Ask clarification when needed, and refrain from being silent when you are disagreeing or confused about something.
5. Stay on the topic and avoid irrelevant comments
Keep yourself focused on the specific purpose of the meeting to provide relevant answers. When your response is going off the topic, lead the discussion back to the main topic. Provide gist and refrain from giving unnecessary details as the conversation may lead to a different direction. Identify what needs to be mentioned during the meeting and what can be better shared through email or documents after the meeting.
6. Keep your responses concise and be aware of how long you talk
If your response is concise and on point, others would understand your message clearly. However, if you need to provide long responses, let the participants know right away. It is always best to be mindful of how long you talk, so others will be able to speak as well. Most of the time, we talk long because we feel that we have not yet conveyed our exact point, so we unconsciously rephrase the same message resulting in redundancy. To prevent this, you can prepare your message in advance or think first about how you will deliver it before speaking. An effective meeting participant is considerate and respectful of attendees’ time. Hence he/she doesn’t spend the whole time talking and monopolizing the discussion.
7. Actively participate by speaking up
Any meeting requires the active participation of attendees to have an exchange of ideas. Each invited participant is expected to contribute by sharing their perspective. While others find it hard to speak up because they are shy or think that their opinions may be unnecessary, it is still best to share your thoughts when needed. You are invited for a reason, and your contribution is believed to be needed. Hence actively participate by providing honest comments, sharing your ideas, and asking questions.
8. Speak slowly and clearly
Speak in an audible voice to ensure that everyone hears you. Enunciate the words appropriately so your words will be heard with clarity. When you speak slowly, participants will be able to follow what you’re saying. Attendees will still be able to get your point even if there is a second delay after you speak. To check if participants can hear you clearly, you can ask them and make necessary adjustments if needed.
9. Avoid interrupting others while speaking
During an online meeting with multiple participants, it is possible that attendees would talk at the same time. When this happens, the discussion will be harder to understand. Avoid talking over another speaker by letting him finish first before asking a question or making a comment. Refrain from interrupting and wait for your turn to talk. Any distractions can change the flow of conversation.
10. Use the English language
It is always safe to use the English language when having a virtual meeting with people from different cultures. Since you and your teammates may have different first languages, English can be your bridge language to communicate with each other. Since English is the business language, people who work online use and understand it. So when you speak in English, participants will be able to get your message.
To make sure you can communicate well during an online meeting, it is helpful to practice speaking using the English language. Lingualbox offers courses that will surely help you to build your vocabulary and help you speak fluently during meetings, may it be face to face or online.
11. Avoid side conversations
In an online meeting, remember that all discussion is meant for everyone who attended it. Conversation must be centered on important subjects to all of the participants to make sure it’s worth their time. As an etiquette for all kinds of meetings, avoid unnecessary topics that do not concern other attendees. Inessential chitchats during the meeting may cause attention that can lead to a different discussion. If you need to have a side conversation with some of the meeting participants, do it separately.
12. Pay attention and listen carefully
During the meeting, give every speaker your undivided attention. Don’t be a passive listener and do something else while listening. Although it’s tempting to multitask, stop yourself from doing it as you may miss important details. Doing something else during the online meeting can be distracting for others and may look rude to attendees and the speaker. Nobody wants to be disrespected while speaking. Even if you are not expected to talk much, you should still be active by listening carefully.
13. Use the right gestures to show that you are listening
Show people that you are listening by occasionally nodding your head. This will enable the speaker and the participants to know that you are paying attention. Nod at the comments you agree with or show your interest in the discussion through facial expressions. A smile is also helpful when having a meeting as it allows you to show positive reception and response to what is being talked about.
14. Mute your audio when not speaking
During online meetings, any form of distraction must be avoided to enable participants to keep focused on the discussion. Prevent yourself from causing conversation interruptions by muting your audio when not speaking. This will prevent participants from hearing feedback or any other background sounds coming from your location. Unmute yourself when it’s your time to talk.
15. Ask relevant questions
At some point during the discussion, a question and answer part may be allocated for clarification. While this is a good opportunity to ask questions about details that confuse you, it is still important to have good judgment about the questions you ask. Refrain from asking self-explanatory questions or those you can find on the previously shared document with you. Moreover, if you have listened carefully during the meeting, you may realize that some questions may not need to be asked because it was already clearly explained during the discussion. Some people only get confused when they missed details during the discussion and did not really pay attention. Make it a point to ask questions that are only relevant and those that were not yet asked or tackled yet. Also, limit your questions to one to two only to give others an opportunity to ask as well.
16. Bid goodbye at the end of the meeting
Participating in a meeting is not just about starting right. It is also about ending it properly. If you have begun with courtesies and maintained it through the discussion, it should also be sustained up to the end of the meeting. Once the host, or the chairman of the meeting cues that the meeting is to be adjourned, it is advisable to bid the other participants goodbye. Some of the other attendees might also be doing this as well. Hence it is best to reciprocate the courtesy.
Online meetings make work more comfortable and communicating faster and easier. However, this doesn’t mean that communicating etiquette for meetings should be forgotten. Although there is a slight difference because of the setup and technology used, still the principle when having a meeting remains the same. Follow the tips above to help you participate in an online meeting smoothly and productively.
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