The world of online virtual meetings is becoming a busy place: more and more people are relying on video conferencing services to bridge the distance. For some, they’ve engaged in more virtual meetings in the past six months than the prior six years. Though lockdown and the pandemic forced the change to remote working, going forward many are opting to stay at home for work, at least on a part-time basis. As such, virtual meetings are likely to continue far into the future.
But despite the amazing technology, these meetings often lack the power of real-life. That’s why we’ve put together five key tips to enhance your virtual meeting experience.
1. Talk to the Camera
When people first start video conferencing, there is a natural tendency to look at people’s faces as they talk. After all, it isn’t polite to look elsewhere when speaking to someone. However, in the virtual world, it can look disconcerting to attendees to see the person speaking not looking directly at them. Plus, it makes your points less impactful.
Instead, stare directly to the little black dot at the top of your screen. It’s weird for everyone. But keep practising, and over time it will become natural. Consider a singer, comedian or stage actor. Rarely do they stare at the audience. Their focus is always on the back of the room.
If you employ the same mentality, you will be able to use direct eye contact to strengthen your points in a meeting. (It also helps to speak clearly, with a strong and confident voice.)
2. Consider the Framing
With more people than ever using video conferencing to call into news, radio, or YouTube shows, you’ve likely seen a poorly framed shot. Half the head is visible. The lighting is dim and dismal, casting their whole body in a gloomy shadow. If you can see their whole head, then it bulges forward. Aside from not presenting your best angle, it is incredibly distracting for the people watching. And if they’re looking at you, then they’re not listening to you.
Frame the camera carefully. Ensure you have adequate lighting (not too much; otherwise, you may look pasty or too bright).
Additionally, avoid a cluttered backdrop. While many have opted to showcase bookcases, it can lead to people studying the titles, with unfortunate consequences. Instead, choose to display a virtual background. At Hello Backgrounds (https://www.hellobackgrounds.com/zoom-backgrounds), you’ll be able to select from over a hundred different images and videos, from calming forests to smart and stylish offices and apartments.
3. Get People Engaged
If you’re hosting the meeting, consider ways to engage your participants. Naturally, people will have less rapport online than in person, with the tendency being to slip into business from the get go.
But an ice breaker or quick opening chat can provide an opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves, helping to boost engagement for the rest of the meeting. Another top tip is to directly ask people their opinions throughout the meeting. As it can be easy to slip into the background on virtual meetings, keeping quiet, especially for the introverted.
4. Use All the Features
One of the few benefits of virtual meetings is the sheer range of technology available. If you need to show off a piece of work, share your screen, and present your way through your achievement. If you need to explain a difficult concept, now is the time to open the virtual whiteboard. Or if people are unable to attend, or may want to re-watch the video at a later date, then ensure to make a recording.
5. Avoid Distractions
Mute your phone. Turn off notifications. If you’re using a video conferencing software like Microsoft Teams, change your status to ‘Do Not Disturb’. There’s nothing worse (or ruder) than seeming distracted in the middle of an important meeting. Even if you are busy, don’t multitask. You can do one thing well, or two things poorly. With your mind on something else, you’re likely to miss an essential piece of information. Or be required to answer a question, you didn’t hear. Avoid embarrassment, focus.