Avoid Embarrassing Yourself During a Screen Share

The ability to share your screen is a beneficial advancement in collaboration technology. You no longer have to describe things verbally or direct people to the same page of an emailed document. Screen sharing can help clarify, avoid confusion, and make for more productive real-time collaboration. But if you’re not careful, screen sharing can also get you in trouble in a hurry.

Most of us aren’t used to having our screens visible to others. That means most of us don’t spend much time thinking about what should NOT show on our screens during a screen share. The same snarky message that might elicit a chuckle when you’re working alone at your desk could get you fired if you’re sharing your screen.

So, we’ve assembled five tried-and-true tips to help you avoid embarrassing yourself during a screen share. They’re small things that not everyone thinks about, but they’re things that go a long way to preventing embarrassing moments so you can focus on having a great meeting and not on trying to dig yourself out of a hole with your boss.

1. Close Email

For starters, close your email. Notifications can be distracting at best and devastating at worst. Imagine a confidential notice from HR popping up telling you that you must lay off one of your meeting attendees. Or imagine screen sharing with a prospective client when another client’s pricing quote comes through. Even if your meeting attendees only see the subject line and excerpt as you do with Microsoft Outlook, it can be enough to trigger serious consequences. So go ahead and close your email until you’re done screen sharing. It’ll still be there when your meeting ends, and you don’t need anything distracting you from your task.

2. Set Status And Close Other Chats

Ever had a coworker make a snarky comment during a discussion like, “Can you believe what Kim said in that meeting?” or “If I must hear Joe clear his throat again, I’m going to lose it”? Those innocuous messages can be job killers if they appear during a screen share. Even if Kim or Joe isn’t on your presentation, there’s a good chance someone who knows them is.

If you use chat or collaboration tools where you can set your presence or status, set it to something like “away” so people will know not to message you while you’re screen sharing. To be extra safe, close out other chat tools altogether. We know many employees use multiple devices—often using different ones for company, team, and personal communications.

3. Set An Appropriate Desktop Background

We’ve all seen 18-wheelers with sexy ladies on the mud flaps. Some people have the same philosophy about their computer wallpapers. If you’re doing a professional screen share, that’s the opposite of what you want to do. Choose a safe desktop wallpaper that’s unlikely to offend attendees. Sexy ladies and homicidal robots are out. But nature landscapes, skylines, and outer space images are safe bets.

You can also consider your screen share as an opportunity for branding. See if your company has some branded computer wallpapers or if they’ll create some new ones. It’s a great way to reinforce your brand and ensure you aren’t bombing presentations because people are too distracted by your background.

4. Clean Up Your Desktop

When company is coming over to your house, you usually try to tidy up a bit and put things away. It would help if you did the same with your desktop when you know people are “coming over” for a screen share. While there’s usually a method to the madness of even the messiest-looking desktop, the simple fact is that having files everywhere can reflect poorly on you and make you look disorganized.

A quick clean-up doesn’t have to mean a mad organization push. You can always dump everything into a single folder marked something bright – like “big ideas” – and bring your files back onto your desktop after you’re done with your collaboration session.

5. Know Your Software

Nothing kills people’s attention and engagement in a collaboration session like a presenter fumbling through unfamiliar controls. Make sure you know which software and hardware you’ll use and try it out ahead of time if you’re not intimately familiar with it. You can go through a dry run with a coworker to ensure features work as expected. Even if you are familiar with it, a quick refresher may be good if you haven’t used the collaboration tool in question for a while. Many collaboration tools are updated frequently, and features may change and move over time.

Learn more about Mitel’s collaboration solutions >

Photo of blog author Hal Werner, Dallas Content Strategist & Digital Marketer

Hal Werner

Manager of Digital Marketing & Strategy

As a digital marketer and content strategist, Hal Werner shapes online experiences to help people find information they can use to make more informed technology decisions.

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