Virtual meetings are the new normal. But what’s not normal is having a close-up shot of your face on-camera for everyone to see at all times throughout a meeting. Do you have an annoying habit that is out of your awareness? Your computer camera never blinks, so little things that didn’t matter during live office meetings now matter! Your face is constantly in front of everyone and this requires better virtual meeting communication and presenting skills.
Many people like the comfortable environment of the home office. However, it is very important to keep things professional. Remember that you are building a professional brand and everything you do communicates! There are some simple things you can do to put your best face forward the next time you join a virtual meeting. We started refining this list of virtual meeting presentation tips last month as more clients reached out for help. If you know of an additional tip you would like to share, feel free to send it our way!
1. Lighting for Virtual Meetings
Most home offices are simply not set up as mini TV studios, so lighting is usually an afterthought. Lighting is very important because it impacts mood and affects how others think about you. Most people know to avoid backlighting; this is why you pull down window shades that cause a blaring light behind you. Unfortunately, most home offices depend on overhead lighting for virtual meetings and this is not good because it can cast shadows under your eyes. Ad agencies and movie directors often use shadows to communicate a “sinister” or “bad person”. So, aspire for nice and even lighting across your face. This may require an investment in one or two soft light sources behind your computer camera and pointed toward your face. Experiment until you have good lighting without shadows.
2. Virtual Meeting Nonverbals
We always carve out extra time for nonverbal skills when we work with people to improve their presentations. This is important because your nonverbal delivery impacts what people hear – or do not hear when you present. Nonverbal delivery isn’t just about gestures. Nonverbals also include head movement, body movement, breathing, use of space, voice pace, tone, blood pressure, voice patterns, energy levels and much more. How you use nonverbals during virtual meetings affects if people find you credible and relatable. Both qualities are important to your professional brand!
During virtual meetings pay close attention to your nonverbal cues. Position yourself on camera so you are not just a “talking head”. Frame yourself for what we call a “torso shot” so people can see your hand gestures. At the same time, avoid distracting gestures. Recent videos of Bill Gates provide a great example of distracting gestures during virtual media interviews. Gates has come a long way in his presenting skills these past five years with TedTalks. Apparently, he was told that gestures make you appear more relatable, but he often flails too much. As a result, his gestures are sometimes distracting. Gestures should add meaning and not distract from your message.
During your next virtual meeting notice who is putting their best face forward! Who looks actively engaged? Also notice who appears bored, distracted or actively disengaged? Who is sneaking looks at their cell phone? Nonverbal cues speak volumes and you can almost always tell when someone is actively involved or splitting their attention.
3. Professional Environment
You may have seen some of the internet’s most viral moments from virtual business meetings. Some are very funny! The most endearing one is where the kids crash dad’s virtual interview. There’s another viral one involving a toilet during a Zoom meeting. Four-legged children have also made their debut during this new era of virtual broadcasts and meetings. Once or twice is funny, but overall you should keep it professional. It is a good idea to put a sign on your home office door that says, “Meeting in Progress”. (Of course, a three-year old cannot read!) Also, take a look at what is showing in the background. Clear out the toys, dog blankets or piles of laundry. Remember, everything you do communicates! So, opt for maintaining a professional image.
Virtual Meeting Best Practices
Benchmark helps leaders and teams reach their full potential with better leadership and communication strategies. We offer actionable and relevant consulting, training and coaching for leaders and teams. CONTACT US to explore your business goals and options. Have a great day and enjoy your next virtual business meeting!
ABOUT GAIL BORDEN
Gail Borden and her family enjoy living on a ranch with great sunsets and some very special four-legged companions. They support animal rescue groups and a horse-therapy program to help people with special needs.