• Web conferencing can be a real pain in the ass with tech issues
  • Master the software and establish a standardized process and protocol
  • Control the things you can and don’t get stressed about the things you can’t 
It happens every fucking time without fail. In every online virtual meeting, there are at least a few tech issues and annoyances that always happen.

At least one person forgets to mute themselves and they’re totally oblivious to the fact that their side conversation is dominating the meeting audio. Or, it’s the opposite where that one person always forgets to unmute themselves when it’s their turn to respond and it’s nothing but crickets. They’re all bad virtual meeting habits that kill your rep.

Sometimes, the tech gremlins mess with you too.

This is when your laptop decides to be totally uncooperative for this meeting and not share the screen, freezes up, disables the mic, randomly decides that now is the perfect time to update the system, etc. Or maybe, it’s just the fact that Webex is such a pain in the ass to use.

These kinds of online meetings that are peppered with tech issues can make you want to pull your hair out. Tech issues like these make virtual meetings less productive at best and at worst, they can derail the meeting altogether.

The last thing you need to deal with is more stress. You have a hard enough time managing work stress with what you have now. It’s time to address this.

Prep & Tips For A Kickass Online Meeting

It’s impossible to eliminate all online meeting tech issues and annoyances. There will always be some amount of disruption at the very least. In other words, shit happens. However, you can minimize them to the point where they’re just hiccups and won’t kill the meeting momentum.

The key to success here is to set your expectations realistically. If your aim is to have a perfectly flawless meeting, then chances are pretty good that you’ll be disappointed. However, if it’s about having a productive meeting that doesn’t totally crash-n-burn, then you’ll almost always be successful which will help to build positive office karma.

Once you’ve set the right expectations, then it’s all a matter of preparing and planning for the things you can control and influence for the best possible outcome. You want to have a kickass day, right?

Here are some of the big things that you can take control of to make sure that you have an awesomely productive online meeting.

Know Your Web Conferencing Software

There are only a handful of enterprise web conferencing software that most companies use. The market leader is Zoom followed by Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, WebEx and Google Meet. Your company most likely uses one of these platforms.

All of these companies have free online tutorials on how to use their web conferencing software. It’s to their benefit to ensure that users know how to use the platform to drive more usage. Block time on your calendar and do a mono-tasking tutorial session. Master the basics and build your skills for more presentation wizardry to stand out.

Learn How To Mute Attendees

If there’s one function that you must know how to use, it’s the master mute function. As the meeting organizer, you have the ability to mute clueless participants that don’t know that their mic is still open. This is a key skill you must know for those STFU moments.

Once you know how to use the master mute button, you’ll be able to quickly mute the guilty attendees or even the whole damn group if needed. When you become an expert at it, you’ll be so fast with the trigger that nobody will ever even notice and you’ll be able to keep the momentum going.

Use A Wired Headset With Mic Boom 

Bluetooth is an incredible wireless technology. It makes hands-free communications so much easier and more convenient. However, as good as it is for basic comms, it can introduce audio lag and reduced sound quality.

One key tip is to always use a dedicated wired headset with a mic boom instead of wireless earbuds. Yes, it’s not as cool and yes, you’ll look like a sportscaster, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you won’t have low battery and/or wireless issues and everybody will be able to hear you clearly.

Try to find the kind that also includes some noise-canceling ability. This will allow you to focus in a noisy office during your web meeting.

Check Audio And Video Settings

It’s one thing if an attendee doesn’t have their audio and/or video settings right. That’s out of your control. However, there’s no excuse for your AV settings to be out of whack. Adjust your audio and video settings so that you can be clearly seen and heard.

It’s important to get your setup sorted and dialed in from the get-go. Stick with the same hardware setup. If you start swapping stuff out, then you’re introducing different hardware which usually triggers different software and this can throw things off.

You gotta keep it simple and stable so that you’re not having to scramble and call the helpdesk before every virtual meeting. Get your audio, video and lighting settings set up right at the start and you won’t have to worry about it from that point on.

Close All Other Non-Essential Programs

There’s nothing wrong with having multiple programs running at the same time. In fact, in most cases, you need to have several programs running at the same time to get shit done.

What you’ll notice is that your laptop’s processor will be running harder and when you ask it to do something, it takes a bit longer. When you’re really working your laptop hard, sometimes it will even freeze up as it’s trying to catch up.

You want to avoid this situation for online meetings. Close out all non-essential programs, especially chat and messaging apps that trigger pop-ups. Only have the web conferencing software running along with the shared doc program - that’s it. Limit the workload to only the core programs.

Check WiFi Strength

You’ve seen this a ton of times in web meetings - a person’s audio is clipped and garbled or the video freezes or is choppy. This is usually the result of a shitty and weak connection. You don’t want to be that person in an important executive presentation - that’s a rookie mistake.

Check your WiFi signal and if it’s less than 75% strength, you need to improve this. Either move closer to your WiFi antenna, boost your WiFi signal or use a wired ethernet connection. You need to get it as close to max 100% as possible.

Do A Full Presentation Practice Run 

You can do all of the preparations in the world but you won’t know how things look and sound on the other end. This is why it’s important to do a practice run with your work BFF to make sure that everything works and to uncover any issues before the meeting.

Think of this as a pre-meeting practice run. Go through the paces from start to finish. Ask your BFF to provide feedback on things from their end to spot any potential issues with your presentation, audio, video, lighting and even your WFH dress code. Then, make the tweaks now to optimize things.

Pre-Meeting Courtesy Announcements

Everything we’ve listed thus far is for things that are in your control. This little blurb here is for the shit you can’t control, namely your pain-in-the-ass coworkers that still don’t have a fucking clue about conference call etiquette.

You need to create a standardized list of “housekeeping” items to explain to all attendees at the start of every meeting. This can include requests such as:

- Mute microphone when not talking
- Use only one speaker/mic source to prevent echo
- One convo at a time to prevent crosstalk
- Use person-to-person chat for side convos
- Use presentation mode for slides
- Increase zoom when sharing small font docs

Think of this like how police officers recite the Miranda rights of arrested criminals. In fact, your office asshole and the usual web call delinquents should be put behind bars as constant repeat offenders. They’re annoying as fuck.

Put together your own Miranda meeting notice and recite it at the start of every web meeting. Keep it very short and simple - like 10 to 15 seconds max.

Less Tech Issues & More Progress

Web conferencing has brought us a whole new world of meeting productivity. It’s expanded our ability to collaborate and stay in the loop on projects regardless of geography and time. Without question, it has significantly improved the business world.

However, these new gains have also introduced a slew of new technical challenges. And with any product or service that is very dependent upon advanced technologies, it has the potential to make your work life more frustrating than it needs to be. You don’t need to be taking any more mental health days than you need to.

The key to success is pre-planning prep and getting things set up in a standardized format where you minimize any potential for technical issues and annoyances.

Control the things you can control and for the things you can’t, just do your best to minimize the issues and annoyances. This will ensure that you and everyone else will have a productive meeting.

So, get your shit in order now and you’ll be ready to rock.

Feel Better,

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