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meetings

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Now it’s 2021, and I want to point out there is an advantage of being on video calls with customers or your employees. The last few weeks, I have been on numerous team calls and customer calls, and it seems that people are either tired of being on video or never got used to it.

I am not all about changing who you are to look better on zoom. There are, however, a few tricks to enhance/make yourself more visible on camera for the viewer. Whether you are prepping for a large webinar, an interview or just day to day meetings, I believe these four tips can help you!

Four things to Keep in Mind on Zoom:

Lighting:

If you know anything about photography, lighting, I believe, is the one thing all photographers say is needed. I know if you plan any family photoshoots or headshot sessions, you are either surrounded by studio lighting, or the photographer needs natural sunlight to get a good shot. This goes the same for web conferencing. The most flattering light will be from in front of you and not from behind or an above spotlight.

Also, if you have three different light sources, this can make your appearance look unflattering. Stick to one source. If you have a bright enough window, turn off the light in your room until needed. I explain more in the video!

Angle

Angle!! This one is huge, especially when you are presenting or speaking at a meeting. If your webcam is currently stationed on your laptop, you should either center your laptop in the middle of your desk or sit in the center of the webcam when participating in online meetings.

The most flattering angle will always be front and centre and the camera higher than your head; as I was not blessed with an amazing pointed chin, I don’t feel comfortable with the double chin angle.

Dress Code

In early 2020, most people landed on wearing Pajamas or sweats to work. There is no problem with this, and who knows what type of bottoms I am wearing when filming this video. The point is, one day, when we do start to travel for work again, you still want to have some consistency with your brand. If you are more of a casual person, I would continue with that dress code. Just match what you would typically feel comfortable wearing to an office.

Background

I was doing an interview recently, and one of the most awkward things for me was to see the candidate’s bed in the background. I know we are facing a pandemic, and most people don’t have the luxury of having a home office. In this case, I would utilize a virtual background to block out any intimate things that could be lurking in the background.

If you think this is not important, every single week, I have at least one person commenting on my background on how clean it is or asking what something is. Covid-19 has brought some intimacy in meetings for better or worse, so if you don’t want someone to see into that part of your life, clean it up.

*BONUS*

Watch the end of this video for a bonus item on how to touch up your appearance on zoom.

Alright, at this point, I imagine you are bored with the happy hours, the lunch breaks and the coffee breaks? To be honest, me too. I love getting together in a huddle with the team to talk about the week, but I feel I am really missing the team connection and bonding.

After participating in a few of these activities, I have come up with a list of things you can do with your team!

*WARNING*

only some of these have been tested

Number 1: Brand Stories

Now, this is something that my current director has come up with. He first started by presenting his brand story and explained his journey from the beginning of his career to where he is now. Not only do you learn a lot about business, but you learn about your co-workers and what makes them unique. Everyone has a story and a different path. The point is to learn something that you can use in the future.

I recently shared my story with the team, and I thought this would be an easy task. It was hard talking in front of my peers about my career journey. It was nice to reflect on where I have been and where I want to go. Now I believe when we get in our team huddles, we will have even more to talk about because we are learning unique stories about each other.

Number 2: Show in Tell

Does anyone remember doing this activity in kindergarten?

I know what you are thinking; no one cares what you have sitting at home collecting dust. But…hear me out. When we have our team huddles, or work free conversation coffee breaks, sometimes it is just dead air or no, it’s the same topics every week, or it is that one person that talks every week.

If you put a theme that every huddle or coffee break, someone will share something special to them, whether a collection; could be your cool record collection, something you bought on a trip, a musical instrument, etc. This way, you take turns speaking during a video conference and getting the conversation going in that coffee break.

Number 3: Trivia Time!

This one is my absolute favourite! Every month, we set up an hour at the end of the day and play trivia with the team. Since it’s after work hours, we suggest everyone grab a snack or drink and get comfortable!

I have done this in the past by utilizing JackBox app either on IOS, Android, or PC via steam app. I believe you can also purchase the app on all gaming consoles.

If you are utilizing zoom here are the steps on how you would set this up:

Step 1: Download the app on your tablet or computer.
Step 2: Open up the Game
Step 3: Open up the zoom invite on your computer and tablet and join the conference as an additional attendee.
Step 4: Click the share screen within the zoom and share the app with audio.
Step 5: Once you are sharing your screen, all attendees will join and follow the game’s instructions!
Step 6: Have fun! We typically play the Murder Trivia game, good for up to 8 people!

Number 4: Virtual Book Club

Now this one is self-explanatory. You get together with your team and select a book. If you are lucky enough to have the company you work for expense, that’s a bonus!

Get together every two weeks to discuss how you feel about the book. This book doesn’t need to be related to how to help customers or personal development. Pick a fun book that is not work-related!

Number 5: Typing Speed Race Competition!

Alright, I know typing isn’t fun for everyone, but I used to love that Mavis Beacon typing game on the computer decades ago!

Typing speed races are a free online team-building activity that you can do at any time. I am not sure if your team will like it but to Begin, head over to typingtest.com. You can post your results on your company teams, slack or instant message platform to get the competition going.

Even with certain applications, you can host a large challenge, including a speed test relay! Where you can build squads within your team!

Number 6: Virtual Dance Party (Highly Recommended)

One of the quickest ways to wake up my team is to host a virtual DJ dance party over zoom. Usually, one person is selected to be the DJ for the month, and they will host a quick 15 minute Dance party!

It is a great time to stand up at your desk and bust a move. Usually, there is a lot of laughing and trust me, and you don’t need to be any type of professional dancer; just move to the beat! It could be a nod of the head or full out. There are no awkward silences because the music is so loud. Keep it high energy, and don’t take yourself so seriously.

This is going to be short and sweet.

I feel like I am not the only one, that was having a difficult time to virtualize my background. I don’t have a solid coloured wall in my office, so I was never able to get the virtual background feature to work.

Every time I tried, my face would end up being part of the background, like the image I used for this Blog. I thought it was the quality of my webcam but after doing research it all comes down to processing power. If you are not getting a new computer anytime soon, I found a quick fix that might also work for you.

I work at Dell, and I am using a Latitude 5490, which is about two years old, and I know this fix also works for the generation before.

QUICK FIX for your Dell Laptop

If you don’t have a dell laptop, I am sure the steps are similar just with a different vendor.

Head over to:

https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-ca

Once you are there, you will need to locate your service tag on the bottom of your laptop. You will need to type it in the search bar and hit enter, and your product support page will upload.

This page will appear and you will have a lot of options to review warranty, run diagnostics and most importantly why we are here today! Drivers and Downloads.

What you will need to download is the below :

Update BIOS

Update Graphics Driver

Feel free to update everything if you want! It is not necessary to run virtual backgrounds. Once you have completed this, restart your computer and BOOM! It is working! Hopefully, this was helpful for you and thank you for stopping by!

After my recent post about technology to invest in for a better work from home experience, posted here. I wanted to show you a step by step approach on how to do a virtual whiteboarding for your customer meetings or internal meetings utilizing the Wacom Intuos.

I find somehow when I use the combination of talking over video while drawing out what I am trying to explain, it makes for way more interactive meetings, where people are not falling asleep. I am sure there is a statistic out there that proves this.

After being in meetings where people are using an IPAD pro with the $200 electronic pencil and trying other tablets and testing the latency, I have noticed there is quite some lag on Zoom Whiteboarding and Teams with those products. I decided to go one step forward and test out the Wacom Intuos that I purchased from Dell.ca HERE. From other solutions, this comes at an affordable price at $139.99. I purchased it from Dell because that is where I work! #iwork4dell

If you want to see all the specs and why it’s so great, go check over at the link, they will tell you better than I can!

I wanted to show you steps on how to set this tablet up!

Steps on Whiteboarding on ZOOM

Step 1: Run Installer

Plug in your tablet into a USB drive and download and install the driver to “Run Set up Wizard.” If you want to review the steps on how to do the install, Wacom made a helpful video on how to set that up.

Step 2: Software Settings

After the drivers are installed and you have reset your computer, you can now open Wacom Desktop Center software on your computer.

In this software you will be able to do the following things:

  • Screen control settings
  • Pen Settings
  • Redeem free software
  • Express Key Customization
  • etc

Step 3: Customize On-Screen Control Settings/Mapping

The most important thing that I have figured out is that you need to map where your whiteboard is going to be on your screen. For most of us, we have more than 1 Screen. You will need to Click OnScreen Control Settings.

From here, you will then see a ribbon at the top that will show an option of mapping. Click Mapping

When you are in the mapping section, it will show all your screens that you have. Now you can decide, do you want to share on Monitor 1, 2 or 3. I find it way easier to just have the whiteboard usable on one screen; that way, the pencil is easier to control.

There are lots of features in this section that it could take pages of screenshots to show you all the options. If you want something specific, please feel free to comment below, and I can help.

Step 4: Set up on Zoom/Test on Zoom prior to meeting

Set up a meeting with only you as the participant. When you have an empty zoom meeting set up, click Share Screen

After you have selected Share, a pop up will open up on your screen asking you to choose a window or application that you want to share. Click whiteboard, and this will open up a blank white canvas to start sharing your whiteboard.

Make sure that you drag the whiteboard to the screen where you selected the mapping up above.

Step 5: Start practicing your whiteboarding skills, you can only get better as you continue to use it.

Thank you for reading! If you have any best practices on white-boarding for clients or co-workers, please feel free to share below!

Today, our routine look’s anything but ordinary. However, we must have a schedule. I have been working remotely for quite some time. I don’t call it working from home but running an operation from home.

I wanted to share my schedule with you and how I can stick to it. It is crucial to have organizational skills to maintain your working environment. It doesn’t take a few weeks to master, but months and for some of us years. The number reason I have a schedule is to put in boundaries of how many hours I day I work to ensure I don’t burn out. My plan and this blog post is based on my role in sales but is practical for all functions.

First things first, If you are new to operating at home, create a list of all the Pros and Cons of working in an office, here is mine for some inspiration:

ProsCons
– Faster Response time with colleagues
– A Clear start and Finish
– Coffee Breaks
– Have a clean working environment
– Free Internet
– Collaboration
– Building Rapport with colleagues
– Too many distractions throughout the day
– Commuting to Work
– Too much food and drinks to eat
– People stealing my cables




Okay, there are a lot of pros to working in an office, but the list of working remotely is much more detailed. However, at this point, this post is not regarding what’s better; it’s only about building a schedule.

Now that you have the PROs list created, it is crucial to incorporate these into your weekly schedule, remotely.

Tip #1 Pre-Schedule the Things that Matter

How I do this is by scheduling in the below re-occurring meetings weekly. Whether you are using outlook or Gsuite, this can be done through the settings. Here are the things that I pre-schedule. If these things are important to you, you should rarely skip them.

  • Weekly Touchpoints with Manager, & Account Executive
  • Monday Morning Coffee Break with the full team
  • Lunch Break
  • 1:1 Coaching Session with Mentor
  • Manufacture Meeting – Sync up
  • Internal Team Meetings

Tip # 2 Block your non-working hours

“I cannot log off at 5:30 PM, due to my colleagues and my customers sending in requests”

I never did this before COVID-19, but today I am finding it crucial for me. Due to all my colleagues working from home, it seems everyone is working crazy long hours.

When working in Switzerland for three years, I learned it was rude to send emails on the weekend or after 5:30 PM in their culture, unless something was really on fire. Now, I pre-set all my emails to send in the morning if I am working past 5:30 PM. It is a simple courtesy to help your customers and co-workers have a break at the end of the day to disconnect. I have difficulty not to check my emails at night, so this helps everyone.

Here are two excellent links on how to set your working hours in your calendar.

GSuite Working Hours Link Here!

Outlook Working Hours Link Here!

Tip #3 How to Communicate your Schedule

Having a great schedule built out is excellent, but not communicating it to your manager is half of the planning. If your manager doesn’t buy into it or support your schedule, it will end up not working out.

Notify your colleagues and customers of your response times and working hours so that there are no misunderstandings. This process can be done slowly over time, through phone conversations and just training how you respond to people’s requests.

“I can’t stop working at 5:30 PM because the requests just keep coming in”

The worse thing is to leave someone hanging when they need to get a hold of you.

Here are my tips on creating a schedule, feel free to leave a comment below, with some best practices that you are currently doing. I would love to learn from you!

JP