Making the most of meetings in a virtual world

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In just two short weeks, the working lives of all New Zealanders have been turned upside down. We’re all navigating a “new normal” and creating a new way of working in lockdown.

 For those used to boardrooms, offices and several meetings a day, we’re getting used to a new “virtual” reality. Suddenly we’re at home, on to the internet and getting crash courses in the most popular video conferencing apps and websites.

 To help you come up to speed ahead of your next log-in, here’s a quick-guide to some of the most popular apps and software being used in virtual offices around the country right now. But before you log on – a few tips to remember:

  • Take a look around the room behind you – whatever you can see, your colleagues can see and you want to remain professional.
  • Try raising your screen up with books, or lowering your seat if possible; it means you won’t be crouched over during your call and the angle is more flattering!
  • No one will know if you’re wearing your trackies, but taking a moment to put on a professional top and make sure you’re looking presentable for a meeting is good etiquette.

 

Zoom

Consistently getting top marks from tech review companies, you’ve likely come across Zoom recently. It gets good reviews for ease-of-use and good camera quality and there are options from free sign-in to affordable plans that allow more people to join conversations and longer durations.

 Top tips:

  • You can record your call as a video to share with those unable to make the meeting.
  • Touch-up your appearance – allows you to slightly soften the camera and reduce wrinkles!

 

Skype

Skype has been around for awhile and it’s used personally and for business. With similarly impressive reviews to Zoom, the latest word around is that while it has more functionality and options, Zoom video is a little clearer. Both are easy to install though – so take a look for yourself before you head into a meeting.

 Top tips:

  • Use the chat function when you want to reach out to colleagues but don’t need a video conference
  • Options to create polls and Q&As in video meetings can be interactive and fun.

 

Google Hangouts

If you have a Gmail account, you’re halfway to setting up Google Hangouts already. Head to the nine-dot square in the top right hand of your browser and select the Hangouts icon. The technology is straightforward and allows video, chat and text options.

 Top tips:

  • Use the doodle option to draw a message while you’re talking.
  • If you’re after a bit of fun, you can find “hidden” images like ponies or birthday cakes do your discussions – try web searching “Google Hangouts easter eggs” for a list of what you can do!

 

Microsoft Teams

Built specifically for use on Office 365, Microsoft Teams is integrated with other Microsoft apps like Outlook, Word and Excel. Reviews give good marks for the connectivity and options it creates in the workplace, while also offering video conferencing options at an affordable price.

 Top tips:

  • The blur background function allows you to hide children and pets from view.
  • Check out the keyboard shortcuts page to save time on key functions.