You have to both be engaged and seem engaged. You need to fight only for. one. second. to jump in and add your two cents without feeling like Godzilla, stomping on other people’s words. You need to somehow catalog every team member’s voice and distinguish one from another. And you have to wrestle with bad connections, sound delays and also other technological voodoo that appears to curse every call.
“I usually marvel that people have individuals space stations and place men about the moon, and yet we’re still so lousy at teleconferences,” says Debra Dinnocenzo, author of “Working From the Distance: Being Your Best When You’re Not Along With The Rest” and president of VirtualWorks!, an organization which helps employees and organizations work well within the virtual workplace.
Thankfully, we have a help guide to navigate you thru the pain sensation points of calling into meetings as being a telecommuter:
1. Take notice (for real). Being totally present (if not literally) is particularly challenging when working remotely. Twitter, emails and instant messages lurk in nearby tabs, without any one would ever determine if you sneaked in some mid-meeting Facebook scrolls. Just both you and your browser’s little secret!
But here’s one thing: While you’re commenting on photos of your respective cousin’s new dog, your colleagues are commenting regarding how to solve some team problem. And what happens once they ask for your input? You’ve likely heard the resulting silence heard ’round the international conference calling using their company callers caught unawares, after they wait a beat very long to unmute and say their piece. “That’s a sure sign you’re doing something else, Dinnocenzo says. Here’s the way to remain focused about the call – and prove it to the co-workers:
Stop multitasking. Act just like you were actually there in the conference room, Dinnocenzo says. You wouldn’t be checking email and instant messaging, could you? (Well, obnoxious meeting attendees may do so, although not you!) Bonus: “If you’re actually focusing on the conversation, you’ll know the rhythm and how to talk normally,” says Brie Reynolds, career advisor and director of online content with the professional job website FlexJobs, which provides telecommuting opportunities. No more anxiety about talking over people or otherwise not talking enough. (More on that later.)
Take meeting notes. Another tip from Reynolds, who highlights that “you’re sort of forcing you to ultimately take notice.”
Speak up. Reynolds adds that she’ll sometimes set goals for herself to, for example, ask two questions during a meeting or praise three people’s comments after they’ve spoken.
2. Be assertive. Unsure if others in the call can hear you? Can’t hear your co-workers? Have no clue if it’s Jim or Dwight who’s talking? Speak up! As Dinnocenzo puts it: “[Remote employees] have the responsibility to assert their very own needs.” In fact, she says, you can’t adhere to the conversation in the event you don’t know who’s talking and – heck – when you can’t hear. “That’s like relaxing in the meeting with mufflers on your own ears.”
Asking who’s talking, clarifying an announcement or gently interjecting to inquire about whomever is speaking with sit even closer the microphone isn’t selfish – it’s essential for a productive meeting, Dinnocenzo says. To that end, when you call into regular meetings that may be run more smoothly for those calling in, suggest improvements. By way of example, ask that folks say their names before speaking. “Even though you’re not leading the meeting, you can always share methods to create the meeting more lucrative,” Dinnocenzo says.
3. Just say it. OK, I’m planning to jump in here after Pam – or was that Angela? – wraps up. No, now someone else says something! Is my point even relevant anymore? Am I going to have to interrupt someone in order to say something that mattered way back when Pam was talking? Better not.
Stop this inner turmoil, and only speak up. “It’s every woman or man for him or herself,” Dinnocenzo says. “You need to be assertive, and start whenever there’s the tiniest little break.”
And if you speak up, and – ugh, naturally! – someone else starts talking a beat once you, follow Reynolds’ advice: “Keep going, finish your thought then transform it up to them,” she says. “It will help avoid those silences where individuals are being polite and looking never to talk over each other.”
Or, if someone else starts talking first, hold back until she or he finishes, then chime in by asking whenever you can add yet another thing, Reynolds advises. “[This] allows you to start without feeling too pushy,” she says.
4. Perfect the technical aspects. Needless to say, no person will hear your brilliant comment in the event you can’t discover how to dial in the call. Triple-check numbers, passwords and meeting times, and test your headphones, if you plan to work with them.
In the event the call requires a certain software or program, test that, too, Reynolds says, preferably with another remote team member. “There’s always an update to download or even a program that doesn’t work together with one browser like Firefox, and can work with another like Chrome,” she says. “Find out all of those little issues beforehand so dexlpky29 once the meeting actually arrives, you’re capable of log on without issues.”
5. Control your environment. Now to conclude with some Telecommuting 101: Call into meetings from quiet areas free of barking dogs, honking cars or chatting baristas.? (And when you can’t, mute yourself – but anticipate to unmute pronto, Dinnocenzo says.)
“It’s very easy to distract people a remote meeting with background noise wherever you might be, so close your house office door, or leave the coffee shop provided you can,” Reynolds says. “Your co-workers will thanks for it.”