You’ve been directed to work from home. You’ve done it before but, now it will be for an extended time. In this blog, we’ll provide you quick and effective ways to have the right setup, tools, techniques to increase your effectiveness with team members, clients, and prospects. For client-facing roles, we will also provide tips for building momentum in the sales process that simply aren’t achievable in traditional, face-to-face encounters. Shockingly, you will learn how to become MORE productive than when you were in the office! The following are excerpts from our recently released video course, “HomeOffice2Win!”
Your Home Office Setup:
An optimized home office setup does not have to break the bank but does require intentional enhancement. Make sure your audio is clear, your video is eye-level, and your background is suitable for the viewer.
1. Audio– Always prioritize the quality of your audio over the quality of your video. While this may seem counterintuitive, meeting participants must be able to hear you clearly and naturally to absorb your message as effectively as an in-person meeting. Use a good quality condenser microphone over the inferior microphone built into your laptop. If your home office includes noise distractions (dog barking, noisy children, etc.), upgrade your audio to a noise-canceling digital microphone/headset.
2. Video – People need to see you! Yes, that means you have to dress appropriately and make sure there is no spinach in your teeth! Laptop video cameras are typically, at best, average quality only made worse by an unflattering camera angle! If you must use your laptop camera, raise the height of your laptop to as close as eye-level as possible. Better yet, use an external camera like a Logitech C920S for $70 or upgrade to a Logitech Brio for $199. Going external also lets you put your camera on a height-adjustable stand.
3. What’s behind you? – This crucial element of web meetings is often ignored but critically important. Here’s a simple test. Open the camera application on your laptop (Windows it’s called “Camera” and a Mac. It’s called “Photo Booth.”) Now, what do you see? If it is any part of the ceiling or a window, change your camera angle. Consider some quick room rearranging. What you want is a calm, neutral background. Bookshelves, room dividers, plants, personal pictures are all great! Remember, your audience can’t see what isn’t in the shot. So, feel free to move clutter just out of the shot if you’re not ready for a more significant office project.
Tools abound when it comes to working from home and using web meetings. Some are incorporated into your web tool. Add on tools can further enhance the effectiveness of your sessions.
4. Know your Web Tool – Now, let’s turn our attention to your on-line web tool. If you are like most, your organization has a tool of choice. Some of the top tools include Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx, Blue Jeans, and GoToMeeting. Whatever flavor you have, learn how to smoothly navigate the features of the tool so you can easily chat, share an application, and direct the video. A quick search in “help” often reveals informative videos on these basic features of your tool. For example, the chat feature of a tool drives engagement of meeting attendees. If you initiated the meeting, you could use chat to engage with participants as they enter the meeting to model for them how you want the more quiet-types to be “heard.”
5. Private vs. Public Chat – Speaking of chat, be sure you understand the difference between a private chat and a public chat! I’ve witnessed some incredibly embarrassing and unprofessional messages come across the meeting chat when one individual thought they were sending a private chat to a colleague only to learn that everyone on the call read it! Our advice is to never send private chats in the same tool as the meeting. Use a different channel of instant messaging on a second screen or your mobile device.
6. Sharing a Screen vs. Application– Virtual meeting tools offer at least two styles of screen-sharing. If you choose to share your “screen,” every application on that screen, including your toolbars, instant messages (e.g., “Nobody has any toilet paper!”) will be seen by everyone on the call. However, if you need to show multiple applications in the meeting (e.g., PowerPoint, Software, etc.), it makes a presentation much more manageable. Here’s a quick tip. If you share your screen, turn off all notifications. In Windows, click on the “start” button and type “presentation,” and the control panel option will appear. Select that option and set yourself to presentation mode. On a Mac, select “Do Not Disturb” in Preferences.