Google tips and tricks for success in a virtual world

Navigating virtual 

Google tips and tricks for success in a virtual world


Three little words, the most common words said over the last 12 months, can you guess? Yes, “You’re on mute!”. Getting to grips with the virtual world is vital now more than ever. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but the zooms are here to stay. 


Yes, the last year, and more, has been a challenging time for everybody. I don't believe there's anyone that hasn't been affected in some way from our experiences and now we find ourselves at somewhat of a crossroads, possibly even the start line of a ‘new way of working’. Gone are the days of a jacket on the back of a chair, that has often been the proof that ‘Silvia’ is working today. 


Some businesses have already made the call that they will work remotely indefinitely, and others are opting for a more hybrid approach, but whatever the professional working future looks like for you ‘productivity’ is taking on a new meaning. Look out Silvia the old double jacket trick has gone and we are finally moving to a world of ‘getting stuff done’ and personally I love it!


Who am I and why should I care?


Hi my name is Simon McCaskill and for those who don't know me I'm a facilitator for Google and I create and deliver training programs on digital transformation. But perhaps more importantly than that, and in the interest of this conversation, I am a geek. A geek that loves to find shortcuts in work and life and I'm going to share some of my learnings with you today.


You're not hungover - your brain isn’t yet evolved to a virtual world.

So take a seat on the couch, lay back, and let me know how you're feeling (probably best if you put down the glass of wine). “So how are you?”


Tired. Busy, Drained?


Let’s jump straight into the facts; Over 50% of your brain is dedicated to processing images and we found over last year, as we spent an increased amount of time in front of a screen - your brain had even more images to process. The ‘screen fatigue’ that many of us have felt is often caused when the brain just simply doesn't have enough time to process all the images coming our way. 


So don't worry you are not alone. This isn't you feeling the effects of last night's red wine (most of the time) this is neuroscience so you're excused!


So what can you do?

The first thing you can do is reduce the length of meetings. Research has shown that shorter and more focused meetings are much more productive anyway.


Although the optimal length of a productive meeting is somewhat unclear with many researchers offering different opinions one thing is certain: ‘less is more’. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. That means keep your calls short and sweet. Everyone has schedules that are jam-packed these days, and frivolous conversation not only is unproductive and time-consuming but can also be extremely frustrating.


Luckily Google has also acknowledged this too. There's a nice new feature hidden inside Google calendar when setting up meetings and it’s called ‘speedy meetings’. It is a simple setting that shaves 5 minutes off your meetings - making a 30-minute meeting 25 by default. It’s not much but it’s a good start. Allowing you to take a much-needed ‘brain break’ in your daily schedule. 


Your colleagues are not purposely being rude - but they are toddlers.

Sorry if I’ve just given you a flashback, we are not talking about homeschooling again, you’ve not been drafted into the local primary school as a supply teacher - the reality is your colleagues are struggling to keep up with you.


Building upon the strain on the brain, your audience is more distracted than ever before! In front of them is a computer or phone that has everything from Silvia’s attempt at salmon-en-croute that she posted on Facebook, to the highlights of the Euros. Keeping your audience’s attention is a skilled profession in itself.


So what can you do?

Jamboard! If you haven't heard about Jamboard before this is what Google says it is;


“Unleash your team’s creativity with Jamboard. Sketch your ideas whiteboard-style while benefiting from the access and connectivity of an interactive canvas, on mobile or directly from your web browser. Drop images, add notes, and pull assets directly from the web while collaborating with team members from anywhere.”


Aka: Keep the toddlers busy and engaged so they can’t play elsewhere. 


It works and if you haven’t tried it already I would highly recommend trying to use it in your next meeting.


Move over Joe Wicks, I have the ultimate workout for a virtual world. 

As the world embraced new habits, working out from your lounges, long walks, eating clean, 16-8 (whatever that means), and home haircuts, I’ve also been using this time wisely to improve my appearance; just shoulders up. 


You see, looking good virtually is different from face-to-face. In this world where clothing on the bottom half is still optional, lighting, a good camera, and your backdrop and nonnegotiables.


So while I’ve neglected exercise, increased snacking, and embraced elastic waistbands - i’ve been showing up virtually every day like the Gigi Hadid of the virtual world, and here are my top tips for showing up the best version of you virtually too;

  • Lighting
    • You can’t have enough lighting on your face. If you have to squint to even see the computer then you are getting close to enough. But remember despite the bright lights sunglasses in a virtual meeting are still a no-no. 
  • Camera position
    • There is a scientific positioning to where your camera needs to be - ideally for the average face you are aiming for the camera to be at eye level. Use books to boost your laptop if needed. My face has developed a couple of lockdown chins, so I’ve raised my camera accordingly, set to an extra 15-degree angle. It's all about the angles. 
  • Background
    • Take everything out then start adding in the items that add interest and make you look cool. A recent hobby of mine is buying self-development books. Often I will add them in the background on a shelf which sparks conversation (and once covid finally does one I might actually start to read them).

And once you’ve mastered the above, use the cool feature in Google Meet to ‘check your set up’ so you can get a glimpse of how you look before your lucky audience has the pleasure :)


I hope these small tips and tricks help you in your own quest to navigate our new virtual world. 


Simon McCaskill

Digital Boost Academy