Whether to facilitate teaching and learning, working remotely, or social connections with friends, video conference technologies have become a fixture in our daily lives. The following guidelines can help us T.H.R.I.V.E. during these virtual interactions.

Talk to improve transparency.

  • When signing into a meeting, use your first and last name (no initials, first name only, or random word).
  • In larger groups (5 or more people), be sure to introduce yourself before commenting.
  • Consider using a headset or earbuds with a built-in microphone to help with communication.
  • Learn how to mute and unmute your microphone; leave it on mute unless you are contributing.

Health and safety must remain a top priority for our entire campus community.

  • Be careful with where you share links and login details for virtual meetings and events.
  • Keep track of your screen time and plan breaks accordingly.

Re-imagine and reconsider what is possible.

  • Our hybrid teaching/learning/working environment challenges the traditional ways in which we connect with one another and build community. Video conferencing technologies can be a useful tool to help us connect with and enjoy our friends, family, and loved ones.
  • Reconsider the length of your meetings. If you met for an hour in-person, try 45-minutes in a video conference format. Distractions and screen fatigue are real.

Inclusion requires flexibility.

  • Video conferencing technology may present unique accessibility challenges. If you’re the moderator of the class/meeting/gathering, acknowledge this and engage the proper resources to help everyone participate and/or make the content accessible afterwards.
  • Sharing your camera is encouraged! Seeing one another helps foster communication, establish social connectedness, and facilitates lip reading for those who have difficulty hearing.
  • If the meeting will be recorded and shared, make sure it meets accessibility standards (e.g., closed captioning).
  • Some individuals may be uncomfortable using their camera for a host of reasons, and that’s okay too.

Value all experiences of vulnerability.

  • There will be interruptions. A pet, child, roommate, sibling, partner, or other may make an unplanned appearance during a video conference call. Life happens. Embrace the humanity, extend grace, and carry on.
  • There will be occasions when you need to decline a meeting, or a meeting must be cancelled or rescheduled. It happens. Roll with it.

Empathy requires all of us — and especially leaders — to be aware, sensitive, and responsive.

  • Conflicts happen. If you are going to miss a meeting, communicate with the appropriate individuals as soon as possible.
  • Technology fails us on occasion. Computers freeze up and our internet goes out. Don’t sweat it.
  • Resist the temptation to multi-task. That text or email can wait. Focus on those with whom you’re meeting.

Other Tips

Are you hosting the meeting?

  • Provide an agenda in advance that includes goals for the meeting.
  • Try to start the meeting 5 minutes before the official start-time, providing individuals time to get signed in and to test their connections (if needed).
  • Be sure to set ground rules and instructions on how the meeting will run. If a “chat” feature is present, how should it be used? How should participants express a desire to contribute?

Do any participants need accommodations?

  • Be sure to ask your invitees to share if they need any assistance with accessibility.

Are you planning to share content?

  • If so, have it ready to go before the meeting starts.

Are you connecting via a wireless or wired connection?

  • WiFi is great, but Ethernet connections are frequently a better option for video conferencing (particularly with a group).

What’s behind you?

  • Video conference meetings may put aspects of our personal lives on display. You can manage that by selecting a quiet space with a plain background accompanied by good lighting. Additionally, the less movement, pattern, and texture, the less your camera has to work to focus and re-focus.

These guidelines to thrive in online meetings are borrowed by permission from Grinnell College