Like most businesses, PTAs may be trying to hold virtual meetings, even if it’s just to keep in touch and keep sane right now. I don’t normally work from home and have found a quick catch up every now and again with colleagues invaluable in making sure the cabin fever is kept to a minimum.
I think it’s really important to consider a 'code of conduct' for these meetings so everyone feels they’ve had an opportunity to speak, haven’t been too distracted by what’s going on around them, or their colleagues on the screen – I mean, who wants to see someone’s half-dressed teenager walking out of the shower behind them (sorry about that – I was just amazed he’d had a shower!).
Try to remember:
- Be polite. Try not to interrupt anyone while they are speaking. Some video conferencing apps to have a “hands up” facility otherwise your Chair will need to keep an eye on people, just like they would at a meeting, to see if anyone has anything they want to contribute.
- Try to be as prepared as you can. If you were sent something prior to the meeting, read it. If you’ve got back up documents at home with you, re-read them. It’s more difficult when you may not have all the info to hand as you would in your normal meetings.
- Use the mute button. It’s a good idea to mute yourself when you aren’t speaking, especially when there are a lot of people online.
- Try to maintain eye contact with the camera. This is a really difficult one. Try not to stare at yourself in the corner of the screen and try not to preen! We can all see you using the camera as a mirror and yes, you are gorgeous.
- Dress appropriately. It’s really tempting right now to go from your bedroom to your office and sit there in your jammies. If you dress appropriately on top, but wear your PJ bottoms, remember if you stand up, we’ll all see your Disney PJs.
- Make notes for yourself. In normal times, it’s really easy to check in on people for follow up conversations or when you know you were meant to do something but can’t think what. Writing things down will help jog your memory.
Try not to:
- Make distracting noises or have people at home too close to you so we can hear their conversations too. Turn your radio off. I have talk radio in the background all the time, as I miss the bustle of an office environment. You may think it’s quiet but it may well be too close to your speakers.
- Have conversations with people at home while in a meeting. I know that’s difficult with small children (and animals), so try and keep it to a minimum.
- Try not to jiggle around. It’s very distracting watching people swinging around in their chair or reach out for things, when you can’t see what they are reaching for. I’m nosy – I need to know these things!
Just remember to be yourself – we all feel a little strange right now, but using these meetings to stay in touch with friends is a great leveler. Be nice to each other, enjoy being able to maintain some contact and try not to be too clingy when you eventually do all get back together.
If you’d like more guidance around holding meetings online, please take a look at our info sheet here.
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