Win at Online Meetings When You are NOT Home Alone!

I have a LOT of experience presenting webinars and participating in conference calls when there are children around, so I’m sharing my insider secrets for success. We won’t mention the time that the cat brought a live bird in the house and the grandkids were screaming and chasing it around during my conference call …. that was not one of my success stories! 

  • Take the time to clearly explain what’s at stake. Don’t assume everyone understands. 
  • Make a traffic light sign: Red for critical presentations that require absolute silence and focus, Yellow for important meetings that should only be interrupted for urgent issues,  and green for informal calls that are a bit more relaxed. You have a better chance of enforcing silence for the most important meetings if you don’t try to make them all seem critical. 
  • Find someplace with a door. Even a closet with a light will do. Regardless of where you usually do your work, a separate space for calls, webinars, and meetings will really make a difference in your ability to conduct professional interactions. 
  • Put paper and pen outside door – instruct everyone that they must write a note and slip it under the door if they have any questions. You can silently write your answer and slide it back out. (kids think this is fun!). If they’re old enough – they can use their phone to text your phone if you keep it on silent. 
  • Set up your computer so you are facing the door and your mic and speakers are directed away from the door. The microphone will pick up less household noise. Pets and children will be at a safe distance. And…. There’s no way they can sneak up on you from behind. If they burst in – you’ll have time to hit mute! 
  • Tell the children to pretend they are on an island with no grown-ups. They can have an adventure where they have to take care of themselves and help each other and solve their own conflicts, get their own food if needed. 
  • Have a family meeting and let the children come up with ideas to help you have successful calls. Get that all-important buy-in!
  • Be sure children know where they can easily get allowable snacks, drinks, and meals. Have washed and prepared fruit, cheeses, crackers, and other healthy options they can handle without asking you.
  • Set out an activity to spark interest and keep children occupied: some new play dough, different colors of paper and art supplies, a game or puzzle they haven’t tried in a while. 
  • If your meeting starts before everyone gets home, tape notes to all doors reminding them “Please be quiet – I’m in meeting until 4:00” and include the traffic light with the color code for that day.
  • When your important meeting is finished and they’ve handled it well – celebrate together with a dance party! 

Please share your own tips and tricks in the comments!

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