Welcome to a whole new world and virtual meetings and presentations are the new normal. Even when the social distancing recommendation is lifted, virtual meetings and presentations will play a larger role than they did in the past. It’s cheaper with no need for space and travel. It’s more efficient because we can participate from wherever we are, whether that’s in another office, in the airport VIP lounge or at home in our fuzzy bunny slippers. So we might as well get good at it.
This 3 part series will give you the tools you need to lead virtual gatherings that people will find engaging and worth coming to. Now THAT is an accomplishment!
PART 3: YOU!
Part of the magic of being in person is the ability to look someone in the eyes, and communicate non-verbally. We can do that a little bit on video conferencing platforms, but it take a bit more effort. So here are some things to think about.
- Bring the energy: Your voice needs to carry a lot farther than it does in person. Or maybe I should say, your energy needs to travel farther. It’s really easy to seem disengaged, bored and uninterested while we’re in a video conference. So pay attention to the eye contact you’re making, and being an active listener. You’re much more likely to get the engagement from others on the “call”. Smile a little more, put a little more out there. It can be exhausting, but you’ll be a lot more engaging that way. Some people like to stand up, as they feel more energetic that way.
- Vary your voice: Especially if you’re presenting, vary the tone, pace, and volume of your voice to keep it interesting. And don’t be afraid to use pauses. A well placed pause can make people lean forward in anticipation of what you’re going to say next! Don’t be afraid of a couple second pause! It’s very engaging, and helps to eliminate the “um” and “ah” and “ya know” and “like” disease that many of us have!
- Get eye level with the camera: It feels a lot more conversational when you’re looking at people on a video conference and they’re eye level to the camera as they would be if you were all sitting around the same table. (it also shrinks the chins that always show up when the camera is below your eye line!) People might not realize it, but they’ll connect with you better if your camera is straight on, or maybe just a little above.
- Look into the camera: When you’re addressing the group, speak directly into the camera. It’s SUPER weird and feels awkward to talk to a machine, but it will make the people in your virtual conference feel like you’re talking right to them! It’s a lot more engaging and personal. I like to have my notes or agenda on the screen right below my camera, so even when I’m looking at my notes, it still looks like I’m looking right at the people. This can be a challenge when you are using a second screen, because when you look at it, the other people on your meeting see the side of your face. I don’t use my second screen when I’m presenting virtually, specifically for that reason.
- Remove your distractions: It is painfully obvious when someone in a virtual meeting is doing something else, so if you really want to connect and engage those on your call, actively pay attention, silence your phone, close your e-mail and remove anything else that might drag your attention from the call. It takes a bit more intentional effort, but could be the difference between a sale or no sale on a client call! And just because other people are doing it, doesn’t make it feel any less disconnecting. If you want to show people that they’re a priority, remove as many distractions as possible.
Virtual Meetings and Presentations are here to stay, so think about these few tips, and have a more engaging and effective online gathering.
Stay sane, stay safe, and maintain your flexibility!