Microsoft Teams Meetings – leaving a strong impression

So much of our work right now is being completed through remote working all over the world. Whether it is a team catchup, kicking off a project with external stakeholders or coming together for a webinar, we are leaving an impression.

We all do it, we judge a person by their shoes, teeth, hair, clothes. We make assumptions from what they are wearing in a virtual call and about their life from what is visible in the background. A big part though, and quite realistic, is the impression we get of someone’s professional or technical capability during a virtual call.

Here are 5 quick points to consider of the impression you give about yourself through virtual meetings.

1. Booking a meeting

OMG people stop booking clashes.
First impressions start with how you book. Please make the effort to use scheduling assistant for internal meetings and select a time when people are free, or if not reach out to them. This is less about the tech and more about etiquette, but makes a statement. It can seem insensitive to book and not check calendars, creating a clash.

And, for external meeting participants, get savvy and work out how to use Find Time, share your calendar online or other ways to ensure meeting bookings are easy and allow everyone to be involved.

The image on the left, is ‘scheduling assistant’ reviewing free/ busy time for a colleague when booking. The image on the right, Find Time. You can use this from the ribbon in Outlook to send a poll to externals so they select meeting time preferences. Really worth trying.

Think about that initial impression of creating a clash and making it someone else’s problem to adjust their schedule. It says a lot about you.

2. Give people a purpose

We are all busy people and at times it feels like we live in a culture addicted to meetings.

Time is precious so make it worth it, or at least make it have a point.
I worked for an organisation a while ago that began a rule – if you receive a meeting invite without a clear objective or agenda, decline it. It really pushed people to think about the purpose of that block of time, and what was the expectation on others. I love it when my current Project Manager sends a project kick off with documents in the invite to read and turn up ready to discuss. Bang. To the point, and I know that I need to do.
Think about how you communicate to people what the meeting is about, the things to achieve and at the end of that time block, what would make it have been effective.

3. Entering the meeting

Do you leave the house half dressed? Do you enter a meeting room in the office talking loudly and disrupting the room?
Why do we enter meetings and then adjust our tech?

A big part of this is end-user skills and something that can easily be boosted.
What am I talking about? Check out this video for a visual explanation.

So, do the quick pause and consider right before clicking ‘join now’ how you are entering and that moment of first impression. Enter ready to go. People get tired of spending time each day waiting for others to fix their tech. Don’t be a repeat offender.

4. Know the UBar

I know there are some new features in Microsoft Teams meetings, and there may be enhancements over time, but it isn’t hard to take some time to know how things work.

Yes there are some more complex collaboration features and things you may not use. I am not saying everyone should become an expert on whiteboard, notes or other collaboration techniques. But know the basics.

So you can turn off your video so we don’t see your washing behind you. Great. What about how you participate during a call? Do you mute to reduce the background noise you are contributing? And what about how you interject or raise questions?
If you want to show content, is there a dip in the meeting while we all wait for you to work out which monitor or app to share, oh wait, hang on not that one… give me a sec while I sort this out… sigh.

It’s time to step up and improve your skills, or support your people to help them improve. Meetings are way more than join, mute, and sit passive. Imagine how powerful the experience would be if we all knew what we were doing.

5. Be engaged

I know we all have a lot on, but if you turn up to meetings and don’t bring your full self, perhaps consider not turning up at all. Yep, I am being that bold about it. Why? Because it wastes my time. Actually it is a waste of everyone’s time (it’s not just about me!).

I understand some people are more dominant and others stay with video off, muted and more passive. I am ok with the balance of roles and personalities. What irks me is things like people who have video on and you can tell they are sitting typing and reading other things. Or worse, they have video on and during a meeting take a mobile call. Especially if they are unmuted and continue that call which impacts everyone.

Things do happen. Life happens during calls. Kids get bored and hungry or need your help while you are in that virtual call. It’s the obvious disregard and lack of involvement that wastes time and leaves a poor impression.

There are many ways you give that impression about yourself and it is worth considering how you are in a meeting, and if your body language or technical capability are letting you down. I am not saying we all need to be experts, but if you continually fall down in one area – notice it, remedy it and improve for all our sake. Those few minutes waiting for someone to fix their slides or screen share when they should have prepared for their presentation all add up to moments and time we could all have spent elsewhere or more effectively.

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