The Way We Work
January 17, 2012 by Amy Sept

Work 3.0 enables freelancers to work remotely, away from clients in another city, state or even country. As a result, while face-to-face conversations may not always be part of your working relationships, good communication is always essential — especially for “long-distance” working relationships.

Luckily, technology offers many options for meeting online. All you need to worry about? Making a good impression.

Before You Begin

Whether your meeting is on camera or audio only, there are a few things you should do before starting your call:

  • Check your tech. Give yourself at least five minutes ahead of time to make sure your microphone and/or video are working. Even if you have recently used the same program, things like software installations or power outages may require at least a reboot.
  • Be prepared. Add the person you are meeting with to your contact list in advance. Then, just as you would do before leaving the house for a meeting, make sure you have all the information you need so you do not have to disappear mid-call to look for something.
  • Dress for success. Being a freelancer offers a lot of flexibility, including the ability to roll out of bed and into your work day. But is this the best plan before a client meeting? In a post for GigaOM, Celine Roque suggests that dressing professionally can make a positive impact on your approach to work. Client meetings are one time when you want to be at your best.
  • Try to remove any distractions. Whether family members, the television or a noisy air conditioner are in the background, try to minimize distractions as much as possible. While isolating yourself isn't always an option, try to find a quiet space away from other noises and activities.
  • Check in. If you are the one placing the call, be sure to ask your contact ahead of time (for example, in Skype’s chat feature) if it is still an okay time to talk — and whether the call should be with video or audio only. Beginning a video call when the other person is not prepared to be on camera can certainly start the conversation off on awkward footing.

Tips For Audio Calls

  • Smile! Even if the other person is not able to see you, smiling while you talk helps change your tone of voice so you sound friendlier — even more energetic.
  • Invest in a better microphone. Your laptop or camera may have a built-in mic, but often these mics are not good at filtering out background noise; this can make you more difficult to hear and understand. Some programs, like Skype, let you assess your sound quality using a test call. Depending on your operating system, most computers also have a recording program that you can use to hear what you sound like.

Tips For Video Calls

  • Preview your picture. By checking that your camera works, you can also check what people will see on camera. Make sure you are visible and in focus, and watch for anything that might be distracting or inappropriate and move it. To take this a step further, is there anything you might want to have visible? Awards you may have received or samples of your work might help set a nice background.
  • Try not to move around. If you move a lot while you speak, a spotty Internet connection could make you look jumpy and blurry.

What lessons have you learned about remote business meetings? Leave your advice in the comments section below!

Amy Sept

Managing Editor

As Managing Editor of the oDesk blog, Amy Sept has more than a decade of communications experience and a passion for helping nonprofits and small businesses succeed. She is an experienced freelancer and the founder of Nimbyist Communications, a marketing and public relations business specializing in nonprofit promotions. She has previously studied both journalism and music, and before launching Nimbyist was manager of communications for… read more

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  • srividhya

    Great advice and lessons to be learnt and remembered.
    Very useful and essential for a positive approach and active presentation.

    • http://www.nimbyist.com Amy

      Thank you for your comment! I am glad the article is helpful to you.

  • http://www.intercalleurope.com Peter Jones

    Some great tips here, thank you for sharing these. It is important to make a good impression, although it is not in a proper formal meeting setting, it is still as important to have the right attitude and the right approach.

    • http://www.nimbyist.com Amy

      True - having the right attitude is so important! Thank you for your comment, Peter.