5 tips for effective remote meetings.

Author:Patrick, Byron

Q. Virtual (online) meetings are often disrupted because there's an echo or background noises, and sometimes it's hard to tell who's speaking because they connected with their phone and only their number shows up on the screen. Any suggestions for making our remote meetings better?

A. One of the biggest changes technology has made in the workplace in recent years is to make the place less important to the work. Thanks to high-speed internet connections, mobile devices, and cloud-based software, accountants can now work anytime and anywhere with colleagues and clients virtually anywhere in the world.

Reliable communication is a key component in enabling remote working arrangements. Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Bluejeans are just a few of the technologies empowering remote meetings. How can you use these type of tools most effectively? Having spent possibly a thousand hours participating in remote meetings with several technologies, I offer the following tips for ensuring that remote meetings are successful.

Tip 1: Wear headphones. Yes, your computer has speakers, a microphone, and likely some level of echo cancellation to prevent feedback, but there always seems to be someone in every meeting causing an echo. While one solution is for that individual to mute themselves (see Tip No. 2), a better solution is to use a headset that always eliminates the echo.

Tip 2: Use mute as much as possible. Background noise can be incredibly distracting and disruptive to meetings. It could be a dog barking, someone talking in the background, or something as simple as someone typing on their keyboard. Whatever it is, it can impair the ability of participants to hear the active speaker. Additionally, for meetings run from a conference room, the sounds created from papers or bags rustling on the conference room table (near the microphone) can be darn near deafening to those attending remotely, especially if they are following Tip No. 1.

A common reason people object to using mute is that they often don't remember to unmute when talking. However, if they use mute regularly, they will get used to unmuting. Even better, if they are using the Zoom app on a PC or a Mac, they can temporarily mute themselves by holding down the spacebar.

Tip 3: Join the meeting a few minutes early. Let's say you have a 2 p.m. meeting, and you don't have a meeting ending at that time...

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