Virtual Meeting Guidelines

It has become the norm for classes, meetings, even family gatherings to be conducted via zoom or similar online software. Here are 12 tips from National Garden Clubs’ Gerianne Holzman:

As COVID-19 continues its spread, we are finding new ways to stay connected with friends and family. Our garden clubs meet in-person with proper social distancing or virtually through online meeting platforms. People who never expected, or wanted, to learn how to meet virtually are now finding themselves immersed in the virtual world. They are attending meetings, courses, NGC Schools, conferences and tours – all from the comfort of their own home. Following are a few tips, gathered from several resources, to help make the most of your next online event. The MOST important tip: do not do anything that you would not do during an in-person meeting!

  1. Leave the keyboard alone – do not multi-task. It is distracting to others in the event and takes your attention away from the speaker.
  2. Dress appropriately – you may be tempted to stay in your jammies but others do not need or want to see this.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings – what is behind you? Your wall décor may not be suitable for everyone. Who or what might be walking past an open door? Is there a lot of distracting clutter in the background?
  4. Mute your microphone when you are not talking. This helps to avoid a feedback loop with your microphone and speakers. It also avoids any background noise interrupting the speaker.
  5. Introduce yourself when you enter the event – wait for a break in the conversation. Be sure your name shows with your image – if using someone else’s device, change the name to you.
  6. Use good lighting – try to have it coming from the front of you so your face is illuminated and you are not in the shadows.
  7. Use a laptop, desktop or tablet – this provides for a stable image and allows you to take notes.
  8. Test your tech before the event. You will know what online platform will be used before your event. Go to the platform’s webpage and look for a “test meeting.” This allows you to be comfortable with controls before your event.
  9. Raise your camera to eye level – do not look down on people. Put your laptop or tablet on a pile of books to raise it up. People want to see your beautiful face not your chin or your forehead. Check yourself on screen to make sure your face is in view. Try to talk to the camera not the screen when it is your turn to talk. People cannot see you through the screen even though you can see their faces.
  10. Watch what you eat – only eat if this is something that would normally be happening at the event. For garden club meetings, you may always chat during a dessert. For online courses, there would be a break for meals.
  11. Keep kids, pets and others out of the room – they all may be incredibly cute but are distracting to you and others participating in the event.
  12. Turn off your phone – ‘nuff said!