Working from home has become a new normal that many individuals have had to adapt to in the last year in order to save their jobs or keep their companies operating. And, after a year of remote working, it has become apparent that working from home may be just as effective and productive as coming to the office and may even offer some new opportunities.
And while working remotely enables you to be more flexible in terms of working hours and locations, there is no doubt that you want to keep your business processes at a professional level. Whether it be holding job interviews, onboarding new employees, negotiating with contractors, or collaborating with international partners – you’ll need to thoughtfully prepare for virtual meetings if you want to get the best outcomes.
In this article, we will share some tips on how to conduct business calls from your home office and maintain your professional image at all times. Continue reading to guarantee that your next video conference goes off without a hitch.
Arrange a Comprehensive Workspace at Home
It is necessary to have a dedicated space for working from home. This way, you will be free from distractions (pets, kids and other family members, loud TV and other appliances), keep all your project materials at hand, and avoid cluttering your personal space with them. As a result, it will be easier for you to get engaged in your working routine and stay more concentrated on your to-do list.
If you do not have a spare room in the house, you can consider turning your garage into a full-fledged home office. It is perhaps the most secluded space in the house that will ensure your privacy during business calls. However, before moving your work to the garage, you need to ensure that it’s safe enough for you – you will have to check if there is proper lighting and sufficient insulation installed or a need for garage door cable repair – damaged cables put your safety at risk.
If you have to operate in a limited space, you need to arrange at least a proper desk you can work at – you should avoid working from bed or at your kitchen table. An unprofessional environment can hinder your ability to accomplish your work objectives for the day and may even negatively impact your reputation and credibility with your colleagues and partners.
Get the Essential Equipment Set Up
There is a set of essential equipment that will be a beneficial addition to your desktop. Besides, the right equipment can make your remote working experience more pleasant.
The first thing you need to take care of is getting a reliable high-speed internet connection – even the most professional home office is useless if you cannot use it. A stable internet connection will ensure all your virtual meetings and presentations will go smoothly.
Here is a list of other essential equipment pieces you should consider getting ready for your business calls:
A quality webcam. It will allow your clients and coworkers to see you clearly.
A headset. It is necessary for conducting long conference calls or webinars. If you are holding a conference call with several people on either side of the conversation, having a headset will ensure that you can easily hear everyone during the call without getting distracted by noises coming from your surroundings.
A tripod. It is an essential tool for video conferencing, webinars, recording interviews, or holding presentations. You need to ensure that your clients or partners can see you clearly throughout the call, and a good tripod can elevate your camera to the right height and angle.
A ring lamp. It is a circular-shaped light with a large aperture that can help you eliminate the unwanted shadows that can make your face look tired on the video. It is especially useful if you work from a part of your house with not enough natural lighting (e.g., the garage) or have a video meeting scheduled later in the day.
Create an Agenda for the Virtual Meeting
One of the most critical steps of conducting virtual business meetings is to create an agenda in advance. In fact, the whole outcome of the call depends on how well-thought-out the plan is and whether you stick to it. It is essential to understand that an agenda is about more than just a timeline of the meeting – it helps you and other participants stay focused on the topics of the discussion and follow the proper business operations.
It is beneficial to collect all the materials you will discuss during the meeting beforehand – if you are using a whiteboard, you can write down the plan right on it. A group of sticky notes can also serve as a good reminder of all the topics you want to cover.
However, you should also share your agenda and related materials with your participants via email in advance. If you want to use specific software tools during the conversation, make sure to inform them about it. That way, your colleagues or partners will know what they need to prepare in advance and won’t have to spend time looking through documents during the meeting. Creating a schedule will help you stick close to the topic without wasting anyone’s time.
Get Yourself Ready for the Virtual Meeting
You must get ready for the meeting with enough time – this way, you will be able to focus on the conversation and avoid distraction. First of all, you need to ensure that you have everything you need at hand and check if all the equipment pieces you need are installed and ready for use.
Make sure the lighting in your office is adequate, and there aren’t any electronics turned on in the background – they can ruin the video image and make it difficult for your colleagues or partners to hear you clearly.
You should also practice your presentation before the virtual meeting if it’s included in the agenda. This way, you will be able to follow the outline of the presentation more actively, preventing yourself from getting distracted by irrelevant topics. If you are delivering a prepared speech, it is also helpful to have a printed copy of it available at hand – this way, you won’t have to keep looking at your notes during the video conference.
Remember that emotions can run high during webinars, even though your colleagues or partners are not physically present in the room. While preparing for the meeting, try to train your public speaking skills and practice active listening – this will allow you to track what everyone else is saying and respond appropriately. Instead of interrupting other participants, try to hold your own questions, and voice them over at the end of the call.
Finally, make sure your appearance is appropriate – that way, your clients or colleagues won’t feel uncomfortable talking to you and will be able to focus on business matters instead. Indeed, it might be very tempting to stay in your bottom pajamas during the video conference call. In fact, getting dressed appropriately will help you tune into the working environment.
There is no doubt anymore that virtual meetings have several advantages over the traditional ones – they allow you to work from home and be more flexible in terms of time and location. However, it is crucial to keep your business operations professional at all times. Hopefully, by following the guidelines outlined in this article, you will be able to conduct business calls from your home office more effectively.
Remember that to make your business call go smoothly, you need to ensure that everyone is on the same page. After all, effective meeting planning can help you achieve your project goals or even find new business opportunities.