Remote working is here to stay (even if social distancing isn’t).
Here are 10 virtual meeting tips to consider when you have to communicate online because you can’t be there in person.
(for more direct help with your communication generally, I’m running some free 1-2-1 coaching sessions that will help, virtually of course!)
#1: Virtual backgrounds look fake because they are. Be real. They know you’re at home.
They won’t really believe that you are at the beach or at a mountain retreat so ditch the virtual backgrounds. Tidy up behind you and keep it real. Don’t spend more time thinking about your background than the information you are going to share.
#2: They need to see your whole face, so make sure you show it to them.
Top of the head; side of the face; your chin. They are all lovely features but unless they can see your whole face, they won’t connect with you. Position your camera so you are on full view.
#3: The longer you speak. The less they listen. The more they forget.
In 1885 German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, created what he described as the forgetting curve, which basically measured the length of time it takes people to forget new information that they learn. The basic point is that human beings forget a hell of a lot, very quickly after hearing it. The more you speak, the more you are giving them to forget. So, don’t.
#4: Put your camera at eye level. They don’t need to see what’s up your nose.
This was is just personal for me. Not sure it needs much explanation.
#5: Lights in front not behind. Blind them with your words instead.
Easy to forget this one but if you have the lights behind you, you’ll be blinding them and put your features in the dark. Not a great look.
#6: Mute when you’re not speaking (unless your barking dog has something useful to contribute).
Actually, in my experience, it’s children in the background that make the most noise. I just didn’t want to put that in an image in case mine were watching!
#7: Test your tech well before the call
Incredible! They know that nothing ever goes smoothly with tech and yet they come on 20 seconds before the scheduled call time hoping and praying that somehow this time will be different. And of course it isn’t. One tiny setting issue (you didn’t enable your camera for Zoom; you’re using Safari instead of Chrome) and the whole meeting gets off to a stuttering start as 3 of the 8 attendants fight with their tech so they can get on the call.
Test the tech well before, please!
#8: It’s your value not your volume that will make them pay attention.
One of my favourite lines from the otherwise disappointing Prince movie, Grafitti Bridge, is spoken by Prince’s love interest in the film, Aura played by Ingrid Chavez. She says
“when a man shouts, you must learn to whisper”
I use this quote generally for all my communication skills coaching and it emphasises that value and volume are not the same thing. Pick your interventions wisely and your words will be heard and remembered far more than the loudmouth that speak the most.
#9: Smile. You’re on camera!
If your resting face isn’t a smiley one, fake it. A smile goes a long way, especially when all people can see is your face.
#10: Be present. Stop multi-tasking.
Admit it. Even right now, you’ve got several tabs open; Instagram on your smartphone; and maybe 3 pieces of work on your desk. Multitasking is a necessary evil, especially in today’s modern world. But when you are on a virtual meeting, things are disconnected enough without disconnecting yourself further.
Be present. Be in the moment. Give them your undivided focus and attention (unless of course, it’s a deadly boring meeting, then you have my permission to zone out).
Best of luck.
p.s. Want to have a free one-to-one coaching session with me about your communication skills?