Prepare in advance not only for the case in hand but the virtual aspect of your hearing. Minor disruptions are inevitable and the less disruption participants can cause will assist in making your hearing run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
- Treat the hearing room with the respect you would a in person hearing.
- Dress as you would for an in-person hearing.
- Turn mobiles on silent but have them visible as they will likely be required.
- When you are not speaking, mute your mic.
- Remain patient – everyone involved behind the scenes understands the importance of the hearing and will be working to make the experience as seamless as possible.
- Consider time zones.
- Do not make comments after the hearing and ensure you have left the hearing before calling colleagues.
- Check what others can see – Make sure camera angle doesn’t show notes. Your background is clear of other files or items you do not want to share with others. A number of platforms allow you to blur backgrounds and even pick your own (company logo could work well).
- Lighting can also affect how you appear to others – although it is healthy, natural light isn’t always ideal and isn’t consistent. A room well-lit with synthetic light provides a consistent view.
- Adjust your camera so your face fills 75% of the screen – this is good practice for all.
- Minimise devices on your home broadband line where possible to improve bandwidth.
- Close all desktop windows you do not need to access during your hearing.
- If using one screen, split the monitor screen in two in Windows 7 or 8 or 10, press the left mouse button and at the top of the screen “grab” the window. Keep the mouse button pressed and drag the window all the way over to the RIGHT of your screen. Now you should be able to see the other open applications to the left and you need to click the application you would to appear. Your screen will now be split in two.
- Make sure your machine is up to date. Laptops have a tendency to kick you out of your VPN if you don’t follow your IT department’s updates – getting you back in the virtual hearing room could only take 5 minutes, but will feel like 5 hours as you wait.
- Conduct pre-hearing tests with your colleagues – familiarise yourself with how the platform works.
- Make sure you are plugged and powered – flat batteries are annoying at the best of times.
- Stick to lines of communication everyone is used to. Whilst you might know how the chat feature works, your clients or colleagues might not and this could be a disaster.
- Clean your camera with a glasses cloth – it can make a big difference.
- Have papers nearby and in a sensible order
- Shut your office door so you are not distracted by external elements – pets and children, etc.
- Put a note on your front door so you are not disturbed by deliveries – or make people aware you might have to step away briefly.
- Prepare as you would for an in-person hearing – eat well, and use the bathroom during breaks.
- Remember, you are in constant view – your camera isn’t a mirror for you to preen yourself.