Screen Sharing Horror Stories - and How to Avoid Them! - GotoMeeting


I’ve got a scary story for you this Halloween… a startup where one of our colleagues used to work was holding an all-company online meeting. At one point during the meeting, the CTO took over the screen sharing without realizing he had his email open on his desktop. Worse, his screen was showing a folder full of messages from the employees that he had labeled “Not Very Important.” After a couple of seconds the CTO realized his mistake and closed his email, but like all good scary stories, it was too late. One quick-thinking staff member took a screen shot, and from that day on, “Not Very Important” became a catch phrase that haunted leadership for the rest of his tenure…

Screen sharing can make your team’s online meetings far more productive, ensuring that everyone in the meeting is on the same page. But if you don’t take a few precautionary steps before taking the controls, screen sharing can quickly turn into screen oversharing and lead to some embarrassing moments. Here are some scary moments to be aware of and how to avoid them!

Your Screen Shares… an Inappropriate Alert.

One thing many online meeting participants forget when they share their screen is that even if they’re sharing a file—say, a PowerPoint presentation—in full-screen mode, a text, email, or instant message alert could still pop up for everyone to see. An instant message from a colleague saying, “Lunch in an hour! I say we get #margaritas!!” is not the most flattering message to have flash across your screen in front of your boss.


How to Avoid it: Turn off your email and set all your communication tools to “Do Not Disturb” to limit alerts during a live meeting. If you’re waiting on something so urgent that it’s appropriate to be interrupted, let that person know ahead of time that you should be reached another way – by phone call, or text message – so you can professionally pause the meeting if needed.

Your Screen Shares… a Hot Mess of a Desktop Screen.

If you’re as busy as the rest of us, your desktop screen is the digital equivalent of a category-5 hurricane. App icons, image thumbnails, folders, and web page icons are scattered all over your desktop. This can cause real problems if you’re asked to share your screen in a meeting. It can slow you down trying to find the folder, file, app, or web page you want to share, which can disrupt the momentum of the meeting and make you look unprofessional.


How to Avoid it: Well the best solution is the one you’ve been putting off – take time organize and file everything into folders and maintain that regularly to keep your desktop clutter-free. But if you don’t have time for clean-up, we built the perfect hack for you. With GoToMeeting you can share a “clean” desktop view —which automatically hides your actual desktop and instead just shows a solid-colored background.

Your Screen Shares… A Web page that Isn’t Work Related

Let’s say you’re in an online meeting with your team—or worse, a video conference call with a prospective customer—and someone asks you to take the controls and show them the website or online tool you just mentioned. While you might be ready to do that website walkthrough, you don’t know how many other tabs are going to pop up when you fire up your browser. Did you have open? Your personal bank account? ESPN? Maybe a second Amazon page? You break into a cold sweat trying to remember the last thing you were browsing about…


How to Avoid it: This particular screen sharing nightmare can be prevented by being a bit more proactive in your online-meeting prep. Before every online meeting where you may be asked to participate, take a second to close out any personal errands and clean up your browser. If you have two desktop screens, you can also use that to your advantage if caught by surprise. When you’re passed presenter in GoToMeeting, you can select to share just one window or application. So you can open a browser page on the desktop screen you aren’t sharing first, take a second or two to clean it up, then move it over to the desktop view that everyone can see.

Do you have any screen sharing horror stories or tips we didn’t cover for how to avoid them? Keep the conversation going and share your comments below!