6 screen sharing mistakes to avoid

If you’re like many people who run meetings via screen sharing, at some point, you’ve probably forgotten and left your email or instant messenger notifications up, only to get inundated with pings during your discussion. Or you’ve inadvertently shown others your embarrassingly cluttered desktop before diving into the information you wanted to share. Whatever your faux pas has been, you won’t want to fall victim to it again. 

There are more than a couple of slippery slopes when it comes to screen sharing, but the risks (as long as you manage them appropriately) are worth the reward. Screen sharing allows everyone to see the same thing at the same time, so you can collaborate in real-time and ensure group edits are captured. Plus, with the visual power of screen sharing, and the fact that most people are visual learners, it can help your audience more clearly understand processes, instructions and product features, artwork, layouts and more.  

So, in the interest of helping you avoid some of the potential blunders that can happen when sharing your screen, let’s take a look at six common mistakes and how to avoid them.  

1. Going in unprepared 

Not knowing precisely which materials you want to show and which technology you need to use during a meeting makes for inefficient use of everyone’s time.  

Solution: To avoid fumbling in front of and raising the ire of your colleagues and clients, take a few minutes before your meeting to make sure you have easy access to the files you need, set up your computer for screen sharing and queue up your first document.  

2. Not disabling email notifications, calendar alerts or chat windows 

One of the most common, yet potentially most damaging screen sharing faux pas is to leave on your alerts while sharing your screen. Not only can is it annoying and distracting, but they can reveal personal information (like the fact that you have a doctor’s appointment or need to talk to your child’s principal). Or look unprofessional—particularly if you have a colleague who regularly sends snarky messages or inappropriate memes.  

Solution: Be sure to turn off all notifications well before your meeting begins. 

3. Having a messy desktop 

When sharing your screen, a messy desktop can, potentially, tell your clients and colleagues that you’re a disorganized person. And because the names of your files and folders are clearly on display, they may even inadvertently reveal the names of the projects or clients you’re working on. Plus, if you’ve personalized your wallpaper, you run the risk of letting others glimpse an image of something that may be private.  

Solution: To show your colleagues and clients that you want this experience to be as professional as possible, tidy up your desktop. Put any sensitive files or documents in a generically named folder (you can always move them back to your desktop after your meeting), and replace your wallpaper with something that’s work appropriate, like your company’s logo or your client’s logo.  

Note: Another way to avoid sharing too much, is to share an app or a single piece of content, rather than your entire desktop.  

4. Sharing elements that are too small  

When sharing your screen, be aware of how items appear on the screen. For example, a ten-point font size may look fine on your desktop but may show up too small when sharing with a room full of colleagues.  

Solution: Don’t be afraid to enlarge your windows or even zoom in to make small icons, fields or elements more comfortable to view. This practice can be especially important when sharing detailed artwork or nuanced files.  

5. Showing, but not engaging 

Sharing a document, image or presentation slide relevant to the task at hand can be helpful. However, because these are static items, they’re naturally not as visually appealing as something that changes. And because so many people learn visually, it may behoove you to create a more stimulating, interactive presentation.  

Solution: Take advantage of the fact that screen sharing allows everyone to see your screen and use your computer to show a video, work through a process or demonstrate features or functions. By doing so, you can include, engage and inform your audience in a memorable, meaningful way.  

6. Choosing a screen sharing tool that has limited functionality 

These days, screen sharing software can come with a wide range of tools that not only allow you to show others exactly what’s on your screen but can help you collaborate with remote teams, clients and subject matter experts. Yet, if your software only has a single purpose (e.g., sharing your screen), you won’t be able to reap the benefits of the latest technologies. 

Solution: Be sure to choose screen sharing software designed to help you do more. Look for a tool with the following features to elevate your meetings and make them more productive:

  • The power to show someone a file
  • Collaborate on files in real-time
  • Annotate files 
  • Have a chat window open while sharing your screen
  • Sharing the meeting controls so others can share their screens, too
  • And even capture notes via an online whiteboard 

Because screen sharing technology can help you engage your teams, communicate more clearly and encourage collaboration, the benefits of the software far outweigh the risks. Just do your best to stay organized, maintain your professionalism and use the software as an interactive tool—and your meetings will be better for it.  

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