Even before the onset of a global pandemic that sequestered many lawyers to their homes, remote meetings and videoconference were quickly becoming an important and ubiquitous business tool. Online meetings bring benefits and convenience, but can also increase confusion and frustration.
Here are ten tips to help you host effective online meetings, whether with colleagues or clients. In addition to this article, see LAWPRO's Video Conferencing Checklist to help you provide legal services online.
1) Ensure confidentiality and security
Not all video conferencing software provides the same security. Consider whether your meetings will require true end-to-end encryption (which means even the software provider will not have access to the content of your conversation).
To avoid uninvited guests logging into your meeting and listening-in or causing disruption, require a password for entry (and don’t post this password online). It’s also a good idea to use a virtual waiting room where attendees will log in and wait until they are specifically granted access by the host.
2) Check your tech
You don’t need studio lighting and high-end audio-visual equipment for your personal computer, but a few basic steps will ensure you come across in the best manner.
a) Place your camera at approximately eye-level. If you are using a laptop, this may require you to elevate the laptop above its usual position. When speaking to others, look at the camera, not the screen. Eye contact is an important part of communication.
b) Use headphones to avoid audible echoes. If available, good quality headphones with built-in microphones will usually provide better sound quality than a laptop mic.
c) Test the equipment and software. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to navigate the videoconferencing software before the meeting, especially if you will be screen-sharing or hosting.
3) Don’t assume others know how to use the software
A client or colleague may not have used remote conferencing software in the past, or may be unfamiliar with the specific software used by the host. If you expect to be arranging online meetings with new contacts, it’s a good idea to prepare (or download, if one already exists) a brief step-by-step walkthrough of how to set-up any required software and access the meeting, and provide those instructions (or a link) to every attendee in advance.