Can you hear me?
You are on mute.
I can’t hear you.
Let me put on my headphones.
Sorry, I did not understand, can you pls repeat that.
Your voice is breaking off.
There is a lot of echo..
Can everyone go on mute please?
Suddenly, these have become the most used phrase in our lives. Suddenly, we are in a place where all travel and the perks that come along with it, have vanished and we are expected to continue to be productive while working virtually.
Everything from team meetings, to sales conversations, to large, complex, enterprise wide software implementations are being done online. Not to forget the happy hours and the team challenges.
The question then arises is the following:
In such an environment, what can we do to run effective virtual meetings. Last week alone, I participated in 14 virtual meetings and hosted 11 virtual meetings. That makes it almost 5 hours of virtual meetings a day…
And I can confidently share some tips that will make participating and hosting virtual meetings more effective. We have lifetime of practice on how to run effective physical meetings to fall back on. When it comes to virtual meetings, we are just learning as we go along.
So, here are some tips that can help you show up for your next virtual meeting in a more authentic and confident way and make the meeting more effective.
Humans brains are a lot more tuned to images than audio. So, keep your video switched on. Almost all tools these days allow you to stream your video while you participate in a virtual call. This does two things for you. Firstly, this is a great way to remind yourself to keep your body language right and secondly, it makes it easier for people to talk to you. It is easier to talk to someone we can see than it is to talk to a box with a name in it.
Sit straight. Our body has a unique way of communicating our confidence based on how we feel and affects how we feel by our posture. So, having good posture will make you feel confident and that confidence comes through in our voice, that people can see and hear.
As they say, “The most important thing you wear is the expression on your face”. So, smile. Use your face to express your feelings. As opposed to physical meetings, where people can see you fully, in a virtual call, everyone in the meeting usually only has your face to look at. So, be more expressive. Technology is a great amplifier, so allow it the opportunity to amplify your facial expression.
Eye contact in any interaction is critical. So, if you are using a laptop to join a virtual meeting, find a way to increase the height of the laptop so that you are at the eye level with your camera. That way, you are looking right at the others and not looking down at others. These are subtle things that can make a big difference. Stand up if you feel more confident that way.
All meetings are tools for enabling effective communication between a set of people. In a physical environment, it is easy for us to sense the feedback through observing the entire body language of all participants at the same time. However, it can be difficult to do this in a virtual meeting, especially when not everyone has their camera switched on. So, specifically, ask for feedback. This can be either using the tool or asking people to speak up and share their feedback.
Virtual meetings are notorious for being low on energy and / or engagement. So, you need to bring in extra energy, just to maintain the energy levels. So, plan your breaks, drink a lot of fluids (hopefully water) and exercise.
In conclusion, virtual meetings are here to stay. So, we would do well to learn how to participate and lead effective virtual meetings and show up as our authentic and confident selves.