With a rapid shift in how all the institutions are coming up online, there is an increasing need for effective communication virtually. Classes and meetings are shifting to online space, now more than ever. Communication through online platforms has kept all the organizations thriving and helped overcome the odds of the pandemic. Both students and professionals have relied on online meetings to communicate with their educators and peers. The overnight transition of moving totally from offline settings to online settings may not have come easy for many due to the challenges involved in communication.
Here are some tips on how to communicate effectively in an online meeting or session-
Sometimes in online setups, the flow of information is lost either due to technical or non-technical issues. While we can't do much about the technical problems appearing, the other thing is entirely on us. Most people overlook the active listening part of communication. Listening is crucial in one-on-one communication as well as in a group setting. The same applies in an online meeting, to retain the information, listen actively to the person talking through the screen.
Reach out During the Meeting
While communicating, try to keep your messages clear and concise. Understand the agenda of the meeting, and if you are unable to keep up with the context of the meeting, reach out during the meeting time itself to avoid any further miscommunication. Make a habit of following up quickly via messages or email.
Engage through the Camera
At times the speaker/teacher may feel like communicating to the screen and not actual humans. It is only ordinary to feel that way if the cameras are off or there is not much interaction during the meeting even if the cameras are on. Start practicing talking in front of the camera if you feel anxious facing the camera. Respond to the questions in time to avoid any miscommunication. Take an active part in the meeting without being a bystander. At the same time, keep your mic on mute when it is not your turn to interact.
Don't miss out on non-verbal cues even in online meetings. Be aware of your body language. Posture, eye contact, hand gestures, and all matters, even during the virtual meeting. Don't fidget or move excessively, as that can appear blurry for people on the other end of the screen and can even be distracting.
Share the Material before the Start of the Meeting
The speaker should send out the necessary notes required during the meeting before it starts, as it ensures that the audience is familiar with the agenda of the meeting. This way, no time is wasted. Similarly, in educative setups, teachers should share lecture notes and curriculum with the students before starting the online class.
Attending meetings online or from home can be distracting due to not having a fixed work-personal boundary. There could be multiple distractions, like mobile phones and electronic gadgets or pets, pop-ups from websites, and so on. These distractions can be eliminated by setting up a dedicated space to attend and hold meetings, switching off notifications, and blocking distracting websites.
Be on Time
Online meetings are not an excuse to be late or a reason to join the meeting at any time as wished. Respect everyone's time boundaries and show up for the meeting on time. Another thing to keep in mind is to finish the meeting within the stipulated time; that is why it is important to plan the structure of the meeting well ahead in advance so that the meeting won't stretch too long.
Wrapping up these are not the only pointers that determine effective communication in an online meeting. Some other pointers which are often neglected are-
- sitting in poorly illuminated places
- not having a good mic or headphones
- no steady internet connection
- dressing inappropriately
- doing multi-tasking instead of just being attentive in the meeting.
Student- teacher or speaker-audience relation is completely based on effective communication skills. The world is transforming fast due to technology, and learning how to effectively communicate online has become a necessity. Following practical tips on communicating better can subtly change the way we perceive communication altogether in online meetings.