If you’ve ever hosted an online meeting, you’re well aware of the follies you could suffer in the process; losing audio, sketchy video, even having a mildly unprofessional backdrop could all ruin your presentation before you even get to it, and damage your reputation as a business professional in the process. The biggest problem with these perfectly understandable errors isn’t even that it makes you seem unprofessional, it’s that you could come off as unintelligent.
After all, a smart presenter would know how to use the video conferencing platform properly, not to mention know better than to leave that David Bowie poster up on the wall behind them when meeting with the board of directors.
Don’t worry too much, because here are 10 ways to balance out the unavoidable bugs in the system when having those all so important online meetings – although you still need to take that poster down – and make yourself look like the smartest person for the job.
1. Understand The System
Even if you’re not the one presenting the online meeting, make sure that you know how to operate the video conferencing platform you and your colleagues generally use. Online conference software tend to be fairly straightforward (even though Blue Jeans Network system seems to have the most straightforward user interface) for all their features, and can be figured out by anyone even moderately tech-savvy in an afternoon or so; just take a little extra time to figure out how to manage file sharing, screen sharing and basic troubleshooting before you go into your first meeting.
This could be the double-edged sword that labels you as the impromptu tech person, but being the one who fixes what goes wrong is hardly a bad position in which to be. No one will ever assume you’re anything less than brilliant once they’ve seen you in action during that online meeting.
2. Take Notes
Depending on your position in the online meeting, this can be difficult; if you’re presenting, instead of taking notes yourself make sure that you assign someone to take meeting minutes. Make Use Of has some simple but integral recommendations on taking effective notes during an online meeting, whether you’re in charge of meeting minutes or just taking notes for personal use:
• Structure your notes in a way that you understand
• Note the speaker when a point is made
• If you have the time and the ability, learn shorthand to make note-taking faster
Review your notes during the final discussion portion of the online meeting to be sure that everything is accurate. If you think you may have misconstrued a point, be sure to ask about it.
3. Ask Questions
Don’t turn every online meeting into a Q&A session, but asking the right questions at the right time can make you seem like the smartest person in the room. Avoid throwing in buzzwords just for the sake of sounding more intelligent, but do bring up valid concerns that you feel other members of the team may have overlooked.
4. Answer Questions
If you’re asking questions, particularly on subjects other colleagues may have overlooked, be prepared to answer a couple of your own. Don’t be afraid to answer when approached with a question, even if you’re not the one presenting the meeting. This is proof that your colleagues value your opinion and input, and answering succinctly can really boost their opinion of your intelligence.
5. Offer To Share Notes
Not during the online meeting, of course, but an offer to share your notes with other attendees after the meeting is over makes a huge difference toward proving your focus and attentiveness, which in turn makes you look more intelligent all around. Just make sure that your notes are up to snuff before you send them out to everyone else.
6. Be Approachable
After answering key questions and offering to share your notes once the online meeting is over, you will already be seen as a highly approachable person. However, by being the most approachable person in the digital room you’ll also be able to provide important input and feedback even outside the video conference, and the more valuable input you give the more intelligent you’ll appear.
7. Focus On The Presenter
While joke articles like Buzzfeed recommend interrupting the presenter with demands to “go back a slide” and even standing up and walking around the room to bring focus to yourself, the best way to show your intelligence is really by paying attention. Slacking off and not paying attention could just make your colleagues picture you in a dunce cap.
8. Remind Everyone Of Etiquette
There are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to video conferencing and online meetings. While it could become a bit grating if you are always the one to chirp out reminders to the rest of the group to mute their microphones when they’re not speaking or adjust their cameras accordingly – both absolute requirements according to Entrepreneur.com – as long as you’ve established yourself as a friendly and approachable member of the team, you should be fine. This has the added benefit of making everyone aware that you’re focused on the efficiency of the meeting and aware of what it’s going to take to get things right.
9. Keep Colleagues On Task
This isn’t grade school, of course, but if you help steer conversations and tangents back on task often enough you’ll win the hearts of meeting presenters everywhere. This also helps show how eager you are to continue taking in all that new information the online meeting promised to provide.
10. Be The Voice Of Reason
This may make you some enemies on the way, but being the person willing to point out when a plan or strategy has obvious flaws could just elevate you to “business genius” in the eyes of your colleagues and supervisors.
Of course, the only way to really achieve this is by making your input invaluable through the other tips on this list, so make sure you stick to it. Focus, help others focus, and don’t be afraid to speak up – before long, you’ll be looking pretty smart!