Going Virtual


My friend Shauna is greeting her co workers with a different look each day. (Used with permission.)

One thing is for sure. Virtual meetings are a big part of how we’re adapting to staying at home. Love them or hate them; this technology is allowing us to have at least some kind of social interaction as we’re physically distancing.


Some of us have used virtual meetings before, but never to this extent. We’re so used to meeting in person whenever possible, and we only used the virtual format when someone was calling in from another city or couldn’t get away from the office. Getting everyone connected, seen, and heard was always a challenge.


Of course, many people had never heard about Zoom meetings before last month. It must seem like technology mumbo-jumbo. If you’ve never tried it before, it can take a little getting used to, but it isn’t rocket science. Definitely, something everyone can learn to do. I remember when smartphones first came out, and everyone thought they were crazy difficult to use. Now we’ve learned, and things have gotten easier. The same is true of virtual meetings.


I’m doing Finishing School classes online now. While it’s not exactly the same as being together, it is certainly close. I believe it’s more important than ever that we come together and talk. Those of us who live alone can use the interaction and stimulation of conversation. Those of us who are staying home with others may need the sweet relief of seeing someone different. Let’s come together.


I feel like I’m on my way to becoming a virtual meeting expert. Between business and social meetups, I am logging in several times a day. I’m learning how to make the meetings better. I’m also noticing the netiquette of virtual meetings. Here are some tips:


Virtual meeting platforms

There are many platforms to choose from. There’s Skype, Go To Meetings, Google Hangouts and Meet, Facebook Workplace, and many more. Most have a free, scaled-down version that’s perfect to use to communicate with family and friends. You can pay for versions with more features, and most aren’t very expensive. My favorite platform is Zoom meetings, which is what I’m using for Finishing School classes.


What you need to join meetings

To fully participate in meetings, you’ll need a device that has a camera and a speaker/microphone. Not everyone has a laptop or desktop computer with those things built-in, so it’s a good idea to test out your equipment well in advance before you want to join a meeting. If you don’t have any of this equipment, you can use any phone to call to join. You won’t have video, but you’ll be able to hear and heard.


I’ve found that using a smartphone or tablet, like an iPad, is easier for people to use. Most of these devices already have microphones and cameras built-in. Find a way to prop your device up on a stable surface while in a meeting. I’ve been on meetings where people try balancing their phone on their laps, so most of the time we’re all looking up that person’s nose. Ewww!





Download the App

No matter which device or platform you’re using, download the meeting app in advance. On a laptop or computer, search the name of the platform and the word “download” to find the file you need quickly. Some platforms will let you log onto a meeting through their website, but others won’t. It makes the quality of the call so much better. It’s worth the short time it takes! Once the program is downloaded, click the file and follow the directions. There are lots of YouTube videos and tutorials on your platform’s website, so search for help if you get stuck.


To get the app on your phone or tablet, go to the app store for your device. The apps are free, and it takes a few minutes to download. You’ll need to set up a name and password so that you can save your setting preferences and scheduled calls.


Logging onto a Meeting

I usually log in a few minutes early to all my meetings, especially the ones I’m hosting. That way, I have time to check my audio and video connections. If I have problems logging on to calls I’m not hosting, I can contact someone before the meeting starts for help.


When you register for a Finishing School class, I’ll email you with the workbook and a link to log onto the class. The logins I send out, lets you join the Zoom meeting in three ways: computer, smartphone or tablet, and phone.


The link to join by computer takes you right to the meeting using the program you’ve already downloaded.


There’s a different link if you’re joining with a smartphone or tablet. Once you have the app downloaded on your device, you can click on the smartphone link to take you to the meeting on your app, or you can enter the meeting ID number from the email into your app.


You can also join the meeting by calling in on your cell phone or landline. While there won’t be any video when you participate this way, it’ll be more like being on a conference call, and that works too.


Cut Back on Distractions

Being in a video meeting is similar to a meeting in person. Everyone can see what everyone else is doing while on camera. I’ve watched people clean their kitchens, cook dinner, walk around the house, have side conversations with other people in the room, and other things people wouldn’t do in person. I’ve also had meetings where it was apparent people were looking at other things on their computers during our conversation.


I often say that genuinely listening to others is one of the kindest, most respectful things we can do for someone. This applies to virtual gatherings too – professional and social. Multi-tasking during these meetings is distracting – to everyone attending.


If you need to do something during the meeting, excuse yourself, put your mic on mute and step away from the camera. If you can’t be present in a meeting and give it your attention, for whatever reason, you can sign off and leave. I set my meetings up so people can come log back in if they need to disconnect temporarily.


If there’s a lot of background noise around you, mute the mic. This is especially helpful if you’re outside during the meeting. When you have something to say, turning on the mic can let people know you have something to say, like raising your hand.





Join us for Happy Hour!

You can practice a virtual meeting by joining us for a Happy Hour Social! Since the beginning of April, I’ve invited anyone who wants to join me to drop in on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 PM to laugh and talk about how we’re coping. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had friends join us from as far away as Austin, Long Beach, Chicago, Treasure Island, and New York City. It’s been so much fun to come together during this tough time.


I will host Happy Hours until our stay at home directives start relaxing. Right now, that means we have two dates left – April 23rd and May 1st. Check out the post below for the login information.


Come to class!

The next two classes coming up are good ones. The Embracing Change class on Tuesday, April 21st, is especially important right now. I hope you will join me to talk about how we can do more than cope in times of significant change.


The Ready for Your Closeup class with Christine Moser, on Sunday afternoon, April 26th, is a special virtual meeting edition! We may even have a special guest to talk about hair do’s and don’ts for how to stay looking fresh on-screen. This class is going to be a lot of fun.


I can’t wait to see you all virtually!

Much love, Headmistress Jill




The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers live online classes to help women find their authentic selves; not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages, to learn from experts and each other, how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life. To learn more about our classes visit https://www.finishingschoolformodernwomen.com .

Contact us at 316-841-8927 or jill@finishingschoolformodernwomen.com


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