With the shift to more remote-based working environments, one of the biggest misconceptions is that meetings over video platforms could be effectively prepared, and run, just as meetings are in person. Participating in a meeting over video is an entirely different experience that requires an adjustment to communication techniques, overall perspective, and strategic mindset.
If being a participant of a video conference call or meeting isn’t something you’re used to or something that comes naturally for you, it might take some time to adjust. But it’s important to acknowledge that changes need to be made to get the most out of the meeting for both you and your colleagues.
So how do you make an impact during that next virtual meeting?
It all starts with presenting yourself accordingly.
You might be calling in from home, but your outfit shouldn’t consist of your favorite hoodie. Get dressed just as you would going into the office. And if you’re someone set on business on the top and casual on the bottom, be smart and make sure the webcam never goes south of your professional attire. A good rule of thumb: Don’t become the next ABC Reporter.
Choose your location appropriately. You’re going to want to work in a quiet room with a neutral background for your video calls. If you choose a room with hardwood floors wall to wall, be prepared to battle an echo during the call. If you have an area rug available for use, consider it.
Make a conscious effort to make eye contact because this will help to keep the audience engaged. Another way to keep other participants locked in, speak with your hands. The hand movements will catch the attention of attendees, forcing them to look at you.
Next, make sure you avoid communication pitfalls.
Before dialing into a call, test your technology more than once and turn off all other notifications on your laptop and phone. This meeting should be the only place your attention is paid during the scheduled time. Make participants feel like you are talking directly to them by raising the webcam to eye-level.
Once you are on the call, be aware of where the mute button is and how you can hide your video if needed. Especially during a time when children and pets are all home with us, these options are paramount in keeping communication effective.
While you are presenting on the call, raise the volume of your voice slightly. This tactic is done to avoid challenges with remote sound quality and to communicate your message confidently and powerfully. Also, position the conference window near your camera because this will nudge you to look at the camera when you’re talking. This method helps to keep your eyes on the camera when you’re talking rather than staring at the screen.
And remember, it’s a collaborative effort.
If you are leading the call or presenting during the meeting, there are certain things you can do to encourage participation from others. When you are talking, extend pauses to give people time to weigh in on what you’re saying and frequently conduct check-ins by asking if anyone has any questions or thoughts on the topic. You can even go as far as calling on those who haven’t been able to contribute.
When it’s not your turn to talk, acknowledge speaker contributions by silently nodding. Making verbal comments can interrupt the flow of a meeting, especially if you fall victim to the ever-annoying video conference call delay.