Sean Heskett Changed My Life Too!

Written By Ray Fremont Jr.

Managing the world of online meetings better.

Chatting with colleagues as attendees slowly filter into our next Teams call has become the new watercooler talk – for now it’s all we get, so I’m grateful for it. It was during this time, waiting for the latest FLC meeting to kick off, that Sean Heskett, President at Potter Electric Signal, said something that changed my life… as it pertains to the issues of online meetings and workload management.

When this pandemic ends, some things will remain. Like it or not, some amount of online meetings will be a part of our professional environment going forward.  Here are a few things that may help you and those you are meeting with to have a better experience.

Don’t Over Schedule

Sean Heskett spoke to an issue I think a lot of people are experiencing. He said, “With all these online meetings, when do we have time to do the work?” That struck a familiar cord with me. Like you, I’m constantly going from one online meeting to the next. Sean’s comment made me realize that I need to pay closer attention to the amount of meetings I schedule in a day. Typically, I see an opening in my calendar and offer it as an open slot to take a meeting. Many days end up literally fully booked with online meetings – when do I have time to do the work?

Set a limit: Personally, try to have no more than four hours of meetings on any given day. While this is a dream for some, you may be in a position to control this at your company. When you see a day with four hours of online meetings on your calendar consider that day full and move on to the next.

If I can do a better job with managing these meetings, I will know the answer to Sean’s question. Considering the last eight months – that’s life changing. (Thanks Sean!)

If that suggestion didn’t change your life (or your outlook on virtual meetings), here’s a few more:

Lead By Example

In any meeting, online or face-to-face, the leader sets the tone – so what does that mean for online meetings?

If you called the meeting, there are a few things you should do. Before the meeting, get prepped. Make sure you know what you want accomplished in the meeting and find the most efficient way to get to that end. That hasn’t changed from the time before masks. There is, however, new prep-work to do: Are you familiar with the meeting platform you are about to use? Google Meetups, Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting – the list goes on. If you are leading a meeting these days, take the time to watch a tutorial video on the platform you use. Learn how to share your screen, how to pass the meeting to another participant, how to mute someone that can’t seem to understand they are causing an echo. Learn all of the basic features of the meeting software.

Every meeting that I have attended where the moderator knows the platform runs smoothly, with the opposite being true as well.

…But I Have A Face For Radio

If you are leading the meeting, turn on your camera and show your face – I can’t recommend this enough.

I’ve met many of the people in this industry and my collective opinion is that we mostly have faces’ only a mother could love – tough luck for everyone else in the meeting. By seeing your face in an online meeting you will show everyone you are present, professional and engaged in the topic at hand.

Also, if you are playing a significant role in a meeting, be on video. If you are attending a meeting that you didn’t call but you don’t expect to speak in, at least start the meeting with your video on. If nothing else, it adds a personal presence that we are all lacking a little these days.

Finally, as the meeting leader, if you are noticing problems with video and audio quality have others shut off their video as it typically helps with bandwidth. If you don’t know what that means – see the platform tutorial!

Look the Part

This is particularly relevant to people like me who mostly work from home. Get up on time and dressed like you are going to the office (or close to it – I wear slippers all day, don’t judge, it’s comfortable). The same rules of professionalism that are at play in the office should be carried through to your new work situation, even if it’s your living room.

Do A Check Up

Talk to the people in your company about their online meeting experiences. Some people flourish in this new environment, others are floundering and can use your help. Often times, simple changes like the ones above will be enough to help.

Change is here, how will you meet it?

Follow the lead of the NFSA staff as they have done an exceptional job adjusting to this new working environment. We still need face-to-face meetings. However, success today, and to some degree going forward, means embracing this change for the time being. Hopefully some of the suggestions above can help you and your team make the changes necessary in order to make your virtual meetings just as productive as your in-person ones.

Ray Fremont Jr.

Director of Marketing, General Air Products, Inc.
Ray Fremont Jr. has been an active member of the fire sprinkler industry for 20 years. He represents the fourth generation of his family in their air compressor and industrial equipment manufacturing company General Air Products, Inc. as the Marketing Director.

Ray sits on NFSA’s Suppliers and Manufacturers Council, the Residential Committee and participates in NFSA’s Future Leaders Committee. He has been educating the fire sprinkler industry on air supply solutions including standard air, nitrogen and dry air for over 10 years.