Best Practices for Virtual Meetings

 

Virtual meetings are here to stay for the foreseeable future. How can you get the most out of these remote conversations? Are there etiquette rules? Here are some pointers curated from around the Web.

Learn the technology beforehand

Nothing is worse than being on an audio or video conference call and hearing background interruptions or the sound of someone keyboarding, eating, or talking to someone in the room.

Before the meeting begins, learn how to (a) mute and unmute yourself; (b) test your camera; (c) test your microphone; (d) frame your video; (e) Enable a virtual background if offered by your video conferencing app; and (f) avoid using a mobile device. Go with a laptop or desktop computer instead.

As NW Sidebar points out, if your phone isn’t on a stable surface, the sound of it sliding around will be annoying. So are your alarms and notifications – although that may happen on your laptop or desktop too.

I would add: (g) mute or apply DND (do not disturb) to anything and everything you can – landline, mobile phone, tablet, etc. (h) treat the conference call as you would treat an in-person client meeting. Don’t permit interruptions and give the conversation your undivided attention. (i) Consider investing in a headset for comfort, convenience, and improved sound quality.

Give video calls a break

As many have suggested, not all meetings need to be face-to-face video. Simply picking up the phone works well for most clients. Don’t feel pressured to Zoom just because the Internet went wild over it. (More below.) A telephone call is convenient, cost-effective, and hassle free.

Message privately

During a group video conference call it can be challenging to have a side conversation with one person. Private messaging is the solution. Obviously, this feature needs to be available in your video conferencing app. In addition, you should choose an app with appropriate security if you are discussing client matters.

Use networking platforms

If you’re seeking to connect to other professionals, don’t forget about LinkedIn. If you are on social media, use the tool of your choice to reach out. If you belong to an OSB listserv, remember that listserv conversations are public record. When you see an interesting thread, keep your communication private by sending a direct email to that individual. In the right situation, it could make sense to launch a conversation with a group of listserv members – just remember to do it outside the listserv itself by sending separate messages. As noted above, the phone is also your friend. Use it to catch up with an old acquaintance or contact someone new.

Best practice tips on video client meetings

From the Law Society of BC:

  1. Advise the client not to share the links with anyone else;
  2. Access the links through a secured Wi-Fi network;
  3. Confirm the client’s consent to proceed in this manner;
  4. Ask that all individuals in the remote location introduce themselves;
  5. Ensure no one else is at the remote location who may be improperly influencing the client;
  6. Make sure that audio and video feeds are stable and that you can hear and see all parties;
  7. Do not allow clients to screen share by default. As the host you should be able to manage the screen sharing;
  8. Do lock the meeting once the client or clients have joined the call;
  9. Where identification is produced to support verification of identity, ensure that a copy of the document (front and back) is sent to you in advance of the online meeting (consider requesting high resolution) and that when it is produced during the meeting the entire document is visible and legible;
  10. Determine how to provide the client with copies of the document executed remotely;
  11. Confirm your client’s understanding about the documents they are executing and provide adequate opportunity for them to ask questions during the video conference; and
  12. Maintain detailed records including: date, start and end time, method of communication, identity of all present, and minutes of content of meeting. Read more here.

Alternatives to Zoom

The world seemed to go Zoom crazy during stay-at-home pandemic orders. I love Zoom – and p.s. – with its new privacy and security features meeting hacks no longer occur. However, if you’re looking for alternatives, check out this list from Business Today. Several of the options mentioned in the article are encrypted, a must-have for client confidentiality.

All Rights Reserved 2020 – Beverly Michaelis

Should You Be Using Grammarly?

Do you rely on Microsoft Word’s grammar check to clean up your writing? You may want to make the switch to Grammarly, the online writing assistant.

Grammarly promises to help you write mistake-free in Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other app you use including text messages, your browser, and Microsoft Word. The basic version is free, with premium plans starting at $11.66 per month.

Security and Client Confidentiality

Grammarly data is encrypted and stored in the United States on a private, secure network. As to data access and client confidentiality:

Grammarly has a set of policies and technical controls that prevent employees from accessing customer data that is stored or processed by Grammarly systems. Where appropriate, Grammarly uses private keys and restricts network access to particular employees.

While Grammarly may track anonymized, aggregate statistics by website domain, Grammarly doesn’t collect browsing history from specific users while they browse the web. Information such as web server access logs or IP addresses is collected only for a limited time and only to provide specific services to the user, such as fraud prevention.

How Does Grammarly Work?

To learn how Grammarly works, we turn to Ayesha Siddiqua from Blogging Filter. Ayesha’s post covers all the details, including features, benefits, platforms, and plan specifics.

‘To err is human,‘ and that’s where the need for grammar checker tool emerges. I have curated this review post to let you know all about Grammarly, …

Grammarly Review: Is It the Best Grammar Checker Tool

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

Training Staff in Small Bites

Getting someone’s attention is tough. Keeping it is even tougher. So why not adapt?

When setting up a training program for staff, offer content that is easily digestible:

  • Choose a theme
  • Set a training period
  • Collect content
  • Divide the content into segments
  • Keep each segment short and limited to one topic

For example, you could designate July as “security” month and distribute brief training segments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Choosing a strong password, avoiding phishing scams, and working remotely could be your first three topics.

Why This Approach?

I’ve been training lawyers and staff for decades. We belong to a profession that values continuing education, but we’re also busy and under pressure. When you distill information it is easier to absorb. Keeping it short means the listener or reader can get what they need and move on with their day.

Where Can I Find Content?

Look to your favorite law blogs. Besides yours truly, Attorney at Work, Lawyerist, and others listed by the ABA Journal are a good start.

Law Practice Today is another great resource. They do themed issues, which makes finding relevant content easier. Access the archives here.

Also see Law Technology Today. Specifically their videos and “quick tips.”

Depending on the topics you wish to address, bar and other professional publications can be helpful too.

Get Staff Involved

While you undoubtedly have some topics in mind, be sure to illicit ideas from staff. What would they like to see covered? Know more about? Ask for their tips or delegate content research to spread the load. Training doesn’t have to be a one-person act.

All rights reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis.

Phase One Guidelines for Reopening Your Law Firm

Last week we talked about considerations for reopening your law firm.

While some of Oregon’s most populous counties remain closed, most were cleared for a phase one reopening three days ago. As a result, we now have new resources for all businesses, including your firm.

The guidelines come from state and county health departments and include 15 documents you should download, read, physically post, and deploy in your office:

Your firm should develop written protocols regarding:

  • Recommendations or requirements for face masks for employees and clients/consumers 
  • Conducting daily health assessments for employees (self-evaluation) to determine if “fit for duty”
  • Maintaining good hygiene at all times, hand washing and physical distancing
  • Cleaning and sanitizing workplaces throughout the workday and at the close of business or between shifts
  • Limiting maximum capacity to meet physical distancing guidelines.

Client businesses can check for sector-specific guidance on the state webpage here.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Deschutes County for publishing this helpful information.

Questions? Call your county health department.

For those of you continuing to work from home, watch for a post about tech and security next week.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis