Virtual meetings have been growing in use for the past couple of years, and in this current social situation we are experiencing, more and more people are using the tool. With so many new to virtual meetings, most are not familiar with etiquette and best practices of how to show up. I’ve also experienced others who’ve been using virtual meetings for some time and still don’t understand this information. This article will share some basics to put in place. We have also created several videos to show these practices in the use and had some fun creating them for you as well. You can view the videos at our YouTube channel – Creatively Communicate.
First, you may be wondering if how you show up will make a difference. Allow me to explain why it most certainly matters. Whether you are on a business, personal, or social virtual meeting, how you show up does influence others. You create a persona that tends to follow you at all future meetings. It goes along with the 2-second approach. Within the first two seconds, one sees you on zoom, the other person(s) develop an impression of you, and all future interaction is seen through that filter. If you show up and are perceived as friendly, knowledgeable, and competent, the conversation continues in a positive flow, and a relationship foundation is built. If, on the other hand, you show up in a way you are perceived as unorganized, casual, and incompetent, everything you say and do will be processed through that filter. Yes, we can change our minds after this first impression of the other person, although it takes several interactions for us before we do. We all naturally do make these judgments of others; we are hardwired this way. To make your meetings more successful, understanding this, and how the best way to show up will serve you in all your interactions.
Before you get on your next virtual meeting, review the following to make sure you have these set properly. You want to show up in the first two seconds in the best way possible and not be taking those precious first few seconds playing with your camera or microphone.
1. Camera angle – you should be looking into the camera at eye level. Even better is to have the perspective slightly above eye level, this is a more favorable view.
- When using a laptop and the internal camera, make sure you are aware of where the camera is, and make sure it is at eye level or above. You don’t want it to be in your lap looking up at you for a few reasons:
1. Your audience doesn’t want to look up your nose
2. Not an attractive view of you
3. It can be challenging to hear from you as well at this angle; it is also more difficult to look you in the eye.
2. Microphone – test your microphone and make sure your audience can hear you. Nothing is more annoying than when the microphone isn’t working well, and you can barely hear the person, or as one moves around, their sound goes in and out. You don’t want your audience to have to work to listen to you; they will do it for a brief time and then just tend to tune you out. You can easily do a pretest of your microphone before your call.
- Using earbuds – You may need to use these if you are in a public space or have other activity around you, so you aren’t picking up all the background noise. A test prior will ensure they are working correctly.
3. Background – be mindful of what is behind you. What is on your walls? Do you have any distracting artwork? Or inappropriate? If you have a messy desk, how will that reflect upon you and those you are speaking to? If meeting with a client or prospect, you are sending the message you are messy and unorganized, not a good first impression.
- Home – If you have a family at home, make sure your audience doesn’t’ see your children playing in the background or see family members moving about because it is distracting for your viewer. They will often miss what you are saying due to this distraction.
- Green Screen – the use of a green screen can be a great tool to minimize background issues when used correctly. A caution here, though, if you don’t know how to use one correctly, test it beforehand or don’t use it. There is nothing worse than when a green screen is being used incorrectly. Every time one moves, part of their body disappears, or you have that continual vibration around them. The background constantly flickers or other issues, this is so distracting that again your audience will have difficulty focusing on what you are saying and will check out of the conversation.
4. Lighting – Another important issue for the video conference. There should be proper lighting in the room or area you are located to be easily seen. The light should be in front of you and not behind – you don’t want to appear in silhouette as though you are someone in the witness protection program, participants need to see your face.
- During your Meeting: The following tools are vital to having a successful meeting. If you are not familiar with where these tools are located in your program, then you need to make sure you know before your session starts.
- Mute – when you are not speaking, mute yourself. Why? So, everyone can hear the one speaking and not you or your background noise. In some circumstances, there is feedback from others on the call, which is very distracting. Be respectful of others on your call and mute yourself.
- Video off feature: zoom gives you the option of turning off your video. Use this tool to hide if you need to move around for whatever reason, you are multi-tasking, or doing something inappropriate. Why? Again, it is distracting to the others on the call. If you are moving around, it can even be dizzying to watch. If you need to do another task for a few minutes, and you can continue to listen, you won’t be a distraction.
- Key – Make sure you have a photo of yourself uploaded to your zoom account, so when you do turn off your video, there is a photo of you as a placeholder. No need to get clever or cute here and have a picture of your dog, cat, or something else YOU like.
- Name – also, make sure your name is displayed, so others know who you are. When you turn off your video, others will see your name and photo. The title will remain displayed.
Virtual meetings are here to stay. Implementing good practices now is key to success in all your meetings moving forward. If you find yourself distracted in your next meeting, take note of why it will probably be that another is not following one of the discussed techniques. You will provide them a service by passing along this article.