I was in a webinar today where the host had technical difficulties—at first, we could hear but not see her, then we could see but not hear her, then it all seemed to work until she played a video where the sound came across so low, we could barely hear anything. Good thing this sort of thing has never happened to me (in my dreams)!
I do think it’s funny that after utilizing virtual meetings regularly for at least two plus years now, inevitably if the meeting has more than two people, someone, and yes, I’ve fallen into this group, forgets they’re on mute. At least people have finally gotten more vocal in saying “You’re muted” as opposed to pantomiming to the individual as if they, too, are muted.
I bring this up because I noticed it was “Techie Day” recently, but also because I don’t believe most companies have fully addressed technology in their policies yet. Newsflash: virtual meetings are here to stay! Have you addressed your expectations as a manager? Is it in written form that clearly lays out guidelines?
I’ve talked with enough people working in different companies to feel fairly confident that there aren’t yet many policies or even guidelines for employees to know what their managers/companies want. Does video need to be on at all times? When is it acceptable to participate by voice only? When video is on, should the background be blurred? Does it need to be neutral—what’s not okay to be in the background? Is it okay if family/pets sporadically (or even constantly) show up during the meetings? Are the expectations the same whether the employee is talking to someone within the company versus someone outside the company (i.e., a client or vendor)?
Some managers I’ve spoken with have been frustrated with how their staff position themselves virtually, and yet, they haven’t clarified what they want. Shocking as it is, I’ve also learned that most people cannot read minds to know what we want without our actually saying.
We’re far enough into this now that we need to make sure we’re clarifying what we want from virtual meetings and letting our staff know the expectations. We are going to be building more relationships virtually (as opposed to in-person); think about what you need to help accomplish that. Be reasonable and then spell it out so we all know what to expect.