8.2 Being a remote attendee
The equipment used by those attending remotely may well vary, as well as their location and space. Some people may be using a laptop and its built-in tools, whereas others may have access to external cameras, headphones with microphones and additional lighting, with a designated workspace. Others may be working flexibly wherever they can, in a space which they have to set up for work every day. Others again may be using their mobile phone, may be on the move, may be in a non-private space (e.g. train or café) or may not have a good internet or mobile data connection.
Setting up your remote working space is important, and ensuring you have the technology you need and understanding how to use it will help you work efficiently, safely and effectively.
Check your equipment
In most cases, if you are using a laptop, tablet or phone, you will probably be familiar with how it works and you have already set it up for meetings. The use of built-in equipment (e.g. speakers and microphone) should be perfectly acceptable.
However, if you regularly chair large meetings or deliver training or presentations, you may wish to consider using external equipment so that the sound and video are of higher quality (e.g. headphones or external camera and microphone).
You may wish to use the table below as a checklist and make notes for future reference – and it may also be useful to think about the common film phrase: Lights, audio, camera, action!
|Set up your ‘room’||
Ensure that the area where you will be having your meeting either onsite or remote is set up appropriately. This is the first step for a good meeting.
Do you need to use a virtual background available via the virtual conference platform you are using?
|Lighting||If you are in shadow or the sun is catching your camera, this can be distracting for others but also means they might not be able to see you.|
|Virtual conference platform and Video conferencing technology (VCT)||
Are the platforms ones you are familiar with? If you are meeting with someone external to your organisation, you may be using their platform of choice.
Have you used the conferencing technology in a meeting room before?
The functionality of VCPs and VCTs is constantly evolving. Ensure you schedule ‘play’ time with a trusted colleague to learn how they work, and look for training offered via your organisation.
Being familiar with the functionality avoids unintentional mistakes. (I have a habit of leaving meetings when I go to share my screen, as the buttons in our VCP are next to each other.)
|VCP organisational policy||Most organisations have a preferred VCP. You may need to check the policy on the use of other platforms.|
Check how your audio device works: can you change sound levels? Are there alternative options if there is a problem?
One reason I don’t use my headphones is I frequently accidentally catch the ‘mute’ button due to where it is located on the headphone lead.
Check how your camera works and where it is located; think about your positioning and how you appear on screen.
Is the camera at the attendees’ eye line?
If it is an external camera, is it in the right location, especially if it is one designed to sit in the middle of a table and moved on voice command?
For example, ‘Welcome to Owl Labs’ (Owl Labs, 2021).
Do you have a profile image so that if you have your camera switched off, other attendees will have a visual cue for you?
You may wish to review the ‘your persona’ section of this course.
Some organisations will add your name by default. It is worth checking it is as you want it. This is particularly important if joining meetings outside your own organisation where you may need to change how your name is displayed.
Having the correct name displayed is important so others on the call can easily identify who is talking.
Check that you have the link to the meeting so that you can join easily and are not looking for it at the last minute.
I have more than once been caught out thinking the meeting link was in the invitation I received, but it wasn’t.
It can be helpful to send a reminder email to all attendees before the meeting including the link, especially if the meeting was set up some time in advance.