As a leader you are most comfortable presenting in the boardroom and with your team in a face to face setting.
With the new way of working and the rapid shift to the online world, leaders are having to adapt to communicating in virtual meetings.
I have spoken to many leaders who are unfamiliar with presenting online and hosting virtual meetings.
Now is a vital time for efficient and effective communication. As well as accurate and timely information, we need to build and maintain rapport and engagement in a time when a high level of trust is essential.
8 practical tips to tips to communicate effectively in virtual meetings.
1. Have an agenda
Just like you would in any other meeting have an agenda that you can send out prior to the meeting along with any required reading or notes. If you are new to virtual meetings it may be easier for you to send the information by email rather than try to share your screen during the meeting.
You may want to make your online meeting shorter than you normally would. It’s harder to keep people engaged online, and even more so now as our routines are disrupted and we are coming to terms with this new way of working.
2. Start and finish on time
Often virtual meetings can start and finish late due to technical glitches. Sometimes technical glitches are blamed when the issue is lack of planning!
If you are the host of the meeting, arrive early to the online space. Set up your workspace and your surroundings so that you are ready to start on time.
Remember to allow some social interaction. Now is the time that we need to feel connection. Perhaps a quick ‘round the virtual room’ and making time for questions. If your team generally has a bit of light chit chat prior to or at the end of a meeting, continue that.
3. Dress for business
How you show up is important. As a leader you want to exude executive presence and confidence. Your non-verbal communication has to be congruent with your words.
It’s too easy to turn up in our casual clothes and opt to have your webcam switched off, but I think it’s important that we show up dressed for work, and have the video camera on.
Think about your posture too. When you sit up straight with your back supported in the back you will look confident. You will be able to use your voice effectively when you have good posture.
4. Meet and greet
Be present and ready in the virtual meeting space as people arrive online. It doesn’t instil confidence when the host of the meeting is head down looking at other screens, on the phone, or fiddling around with papers.
As the host it’s your role to be there and be ready and to be available to meet and greet people. If your meeting is large and there may be lots of online chat or questions, it is useful to have another person to manage this side of it. You can make them a co-host of the meeting so they have the same onscreen access as you.
5. Be stationary
Ideally you will have your laptop set up somewhere but you may be hosting the virtual meeting platform using your phone. That’s ok, but it’s best not to wander around while you are speaking, the people on the receiving end will be distracted by the shakiness and movement. Prop your phone onto a shelf or desk somewhere so that you are still.
Remember to turn off any unnecessary distractions. As our notifications often come through the same device we are using for the virtual meeting it’s easy to forget to turn them off. And of course there is the dog! Maybe the children and other household sounds that are not usually there when we are in the office.
If possible position yourself somewhere where you have some natural light. By the window is a good spot. You will see in this eight minute video that I have used some lights as it was recorded on a cloudy day.
When you have your camera on for the virtual meeting look directly to the camera. Eye contact is really important. Look directly into the camera lens and avoid looking at the image of yourself or others on the screen, and we don’t want to be looking up noses or at the top of people’s heads, so set up your video camera at eye level.
Remember to smile! A smile will help people feel welcome to the virtual meeting. Building trust is essential right now. It’s also ok to use your hands when you speak as you normally would in a face to face meeting.
Keep your arm movements close to your body otherwise your hands look enormous when they are close to the screen.
I hope that those tips have been helpful for you. I have not gone into any of the software or technical tips for virtual meetings as I wanted to keep this post short and simple. These are only some of the tips required for effective online communication. If you would like to take part in next weeks’ virtual masterclass then contact me.