PODCAST: Fight Zoom fatigue, bad audio with better virtual meetings

Written on Jul 23, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

Virtual meetings went from convenience to necessity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But not all virtual meetings are created equal.

“Virtual meetings have been around for a very long time, but that doesn't mean everyone's used them,” said Jon Petz, motivational keynote speaker and author of Boring Meetings Suck. “When this first began around mid-March, people were still learning learn the word “Zoom.” It was this novelty concept.”

Petz joined The State of Business podcast this week to discuss how virtual meetings differ from in-person ones, and the tips and tricks you can take to ensure they’re efficient and effective.

The public’s familiarity with virtual meetings has grown exponentially during this time, and Petz noted that now the company Zoom has become a verb, with people saying, “We can Zoom later,” to imply setting up a meeting.

But hosting a virtual meeting isn’t as simple as creating a link and hoping everyone remembers to log in at the right time. In addition to reminding participants to put themselves on mute if they aren’t talking to block out any background noise, there are other tips to ensure the meeting goes smoothly.

Petz said if you are using video during your meeting, try to avoid sitting in a swivel chair. You will naturally begin to move back and forth, maybe without even realizing it, but this can become distracting for others viewing you on camera. Something else to keep in mind for visual meetings is being aware of your camera placement. You don’t want people looking up your nostrils while you’re giving a presentation or seeing something messy or unfortunate in the background.

For audio purposes, pay attention to the type of microphone you’re using. If people are regularly having trouble hearing you or understanding what you’re saying, it could be because your microphone isn’t working that well or you might need a better one than your laptop mic.

“The moment you lose audio during a meeting, you've lost your audience,” Petz said.

And if weak Wi-Fi is to blame, consider turning off your video component to ensure your audio comes in clear. Overall, virtual meetings might take different preparation than in person, but it’s just as crucial, Petz said.

“The rule of meetings is you've got to you got to prepare,” he said. “So many bad meetings are the result of people just doing an ad hoc meeting, and not having the proper missions and outcomes and agenda items. Take that to a virtual meeting and it's exponentially more important.”

Listen to the podcast here.

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