FDOT District Two Community Traffic Safety Program uses Microsoft Teams for virtual team meetings. During the past two years, we have expanded the reach of our multi-county teams to serve our 18-county district better. We bring FDOT support to our monthly meetings from various department areas, including maintenance, public information, and engineering. This article is a guide for virtual CTST meetings and includes instructions for the Microsoft Teams platform and tips for looking and being your best as an attendee.
Meeting virtually has become the industry standard and allows more players to participate from a broader range across our district. While we miss meeting in person, this is an opportunity to save resources, reduce travel time and expenses, and bring vital members into the fold.
How to Get Started
Teams can be downloaded as an app for your computer desktop, Android, or iOS: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/download-app. Or you can join on the web: https://teams.microsoft.com/. Chances are, you have received a Teams invitation to a meeting, which might look something like the below. All you need to do is click on the link, and Teams will launch on your computer or in the mobile app. Using either the web version or the app version is just fine.
I clicked to join the meeting; what do I do on the first screen before I enter?
Once you click on the meeting link, you will have the chance to join via computer audio (which is the default) or by phone audio, in which case you would call in by phone and make sure your computer audio is off. You can also choose to join with your camera on or off. You can select a background filter (like a blur, a gallery photo, your photo, or no background filter, which means people WILL see your actual background in your space). Then, choose Join now.
I am in the meeting, now what?
Once you are in the meeting, you will most likely see a blank screen with tools on the screen’s top and/or side. Other members’ cameras (or their names) will begin to appear in the main part of the Teams screen as people join the meeting. Cameras/names will remain in this area until the host shares their screen with a presentation, if there is one. If not, cameras or names stay in that space.
How to toggle the camera and mic, how to share, and how to leave
You can click on the camera and the mic to turn them on and off. If you are asked to share your screen, click on Share and choose your screen or content. You can also leave the meeting by clicking on the red Leave button. We ask that you remain muted at all times unless you are speaking due to feedback and background noise.
How to use the chat feature, react, and view participants
We use the chat area to share our contact information and other helpful information, resources, and links. Everyone in the meeting can click on the “Chat” talk bubble to view the chat area. Teams does have a “Reactions” option that allows you to react to content (like, love, applaud, laugh, and surprise). We do not typically use the “raise hand” option in our meetings, it is an option if necessary. To see the other participants in the meeting, you can click on the “People” option.
Be the Best Virtual Meeting Attendee You Can Be
Let’s face it; meetings have always been a challenge. But today, when people aren’t in the same room, it is more challenging than ever to get people to pay attention, let alone participate. Here are some tips on making your meeting experience more enjoyable for you and the other meeting participants.
Turn Your Camera On
Having your camera on lets the meeting host know that you care and plan to pay attention, versus not turning on your camera while multitasking and only half listening. Keeping your camera on whenever possible offers genuine involvement and helps everyone know you are engaged during the meeting.
Call People By Name
All CTST meetings begin with the teams introducing themselves. Discussions are much more successful and meaningful when people call you by name. It automatically makes you feel important, and it makes you want to contribute to the meeting.
Never Hold Side Conversations
Sometimes people in the same office need to join the team meeting, so they call together. Calling in together is good and allows for camaraderie, but remember that you are in a group meeting. If you need to take a phone call or engage in a side conversation with a co-worker, remember to mute your microphone so it will not interrupt the flow of the forum and distract the other attendees.
Any meeting is always more enjoyable when the mood is upbeat. Traffic safety is not rocket science, but we accomplish great things together. We need to convey that energy – smiling when talking and acknowledging team members with accolades for tasks well done and solutions achieved.
How to Look Your Best During Virtual Meetings
While continuing to have remote meetings via video calls, we find people are looking more closely at how you show up, not less. Here are some tips and tricks to look your best because how you show up matters.
- Avoid light behind you or in dark spaces, which add video noise and shadows and create imperfections
- Face a window to allow the natural light to fill your features and hide facial lines and dark circles
- If no window is available, place a tall lamp slightly behind the computer camera, so the light falls nicely on your face
- Consider purchasing a “ring light” for consistent lighting (lots of options on Amazon for $15-30)
- Position the camera slightly above eye level and angle down
- Use a laptop stand ($16-40), box, basket, or anything stable to elevate the computer
- Consider purchasing a webcam for more features and better quality ($30-$130)
- Use earbuds or noise-canceling headphones
- An external microphone that plugs into your computer via USB can be used to sound more professional for those of you hosting virtual meetings, podcasts, or webinars
- If you cannot find a great space in your home or office or out on location (e.g., parked in your car), use MS Teams Background filters to blur the background
- Download a Traffic Safety Virtual Background from our website https://trafficsafetyteam.org/traffic-safety-virtual-backgrounds/ and in the Background settings, click +Add new, upload the file, and then select image
- No hats are recommended, and hair should be neat
- Limit touching your face, eating, or drinking on camera
- Wear solid colors that compliment your skin tone and avoid busy or contrasty patterns
- Make sure you are all buttoned up properly and no low-cut tops
- Shoes are optional, but pants are not – you never know if you’ll need to stand up for any reason while the camera is still on
- To help prevent the washed-out look video can give, consider using a face moisturizer, powder, and chapstick, or tinted lip gloss
- Make eye contact with the camera when speaking
- Avoid fidgeting and looking around too much (e.g., working on a second monitor)
- Use the chat box and reaction icons when appropriate
- Be active in the conversation and offer your professional input
- Come prepared with something to discuss or a question you’d like to ask
CTST virtual meetings are an easy way to make a difference. Members can regularly address and solve roadway concerns affecting their local community by regularly participating. We appreciate the dedicated individuals and agencies consistently coming to the table and helping make the roads safer, ultimately reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities!