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Online meeting tips, best practices and fatigue fighting

We've compiled some tips and best practices for online meetings that should help them run smoothly and to time. They're from a variety of sources, and are applicable regardless of the platform – for example, Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom.

General principles:

Preparing for a call

  • Prepare any material for discussion ahead of the call.

  • If you are using a camera, ensure that it is setup ahead of your call.

  • If attending a scheduled call, make sure you're ready on time to ensure that your call runs to time.

Camera and video

  • Agree whether call participants will be using their cameras during the meeting. Some colleagues may not have access to a web camera or may not feel comfortable using one. Face-to-face calls can act as an important part of communication during calls, but we must be mindful of each other's preferences where possible.

  • Use the 'share your screen' function to share appropriate information with other call participants.

  • Make use of the 'blur background' function if you'd like to keep your work environment private.

Microphone and audio

  • Go on 'mute' if you aren't speaking.

  • Speak only one at a time, and where possible raise questions in the text chat area.

  • Be conscious of any background noise/chatter that could interfere with your audio feed.

  • Be aware that drinking, eating and shuffling papers for example may be picked up by your microphone during calls. Unless you have agreed to have a lunch meeting try to avoid eating during your call.

General best practice

  • Treat virtual meetings with the same level of importance as if you were meeting face-to-face.

  • Where possible, minimise interruptions from notifications, calls or other noise.

  • Avoid the temptation to multi-task. By refraining from juggling texts and emails during your call both yourself and other participants will feel more engaged and heard during the meeting.

  • Remember to be considerate and treat others with respect during the call and in the chat section.

  • If you are making an ad-hoc call to colleague, pay attention to their availability status in Teams and whether out of office notifications are activated in order to gauge their availability for a call.

  • Unless agreed otherwise, only initiate work calls to colleagues within their working hours.

 

Additional tips for scheduled meetings:

Before the meeting

  • Agree any agendas, additional items and the meeting length ahead of the call.

  • If you'll be sharing content during the meeting, make sure you have the files and/or links ready to go before the meeting begins.

At the start of the meeting

  • Identify who will be leading the meeting at the start of the call.

  • If you're hosting a larger meeting, confirm a 'chat chair' at the start of the meeting. This person will assist with ensuring that the 'chat' stays on topic and highlights any comments or questions that may arise during the call.

  

Additional tips from colleagues:

Natalie West: "I find it hard not to get distracted by emails, teams messages and other work, so I try and have my latest felting project on hand, and that occupies the part of my brain that wanders allowing me to focus on what is being said in the meeting."

Sources:

 

Dealing with online fatigue:

Manage your availability

  • Agree with your manager and team 'no meeting' blocks and include these in your calendar.

  • Replace unessential meetings with a telephone call or even an email.

  • Schedule regular breaks from your screen.

  • Stick to agreed meeting times and agree agendas ahead of time where possible.

  • Keep meetings short and to the point where appropriate!

  • Avoid multitasking - *Multitasking can be hard to resist, especially during busy days with multiple calls or meetings, but there is a reason why focusing on the task at hand is one of the top tips for online learning. Removing distractions will have you more present and effective and less fatigued.

Additional things that may help

  • Avoid multitasking - removing distractions may make you feel more present and effective and less fatigued.

  • Hide your own video from yourself – doing so may you feel less self-conscious as you wouldn’t normally see yourself whilst talking!

  • Update your Teams status – ‘available’ ‘busy’ etc update the notifications period on the app or log out at the end of the day

  • Move frequently – whether taking a break away from your desk, going for a walk, making a cup of tea or having a stretch between meetings. 

Desk based exercises  

Sources: