Establishing Credibility in Virtual Meetings
Is it just me or are virtual meetings awkward?
Over the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time in virtual meetings and I’ve found that it can be hard to establish credibility, especially if you aren’t prepared for the “virtual” aspect. There are a ton of variables; everything from the meeting platform, who will be on the call, and, of course, the unexpected technology curveballs. When you have a professional meeting, especially a virtual one, it’s important to establish credibility so your message is well received. Here are some things to consider as you prepare to meet on a virtual platform:
When speaking online, your audience should be focused on you, not what’s going on in the background. Before signing on, think about the location you’ll be in when you are on the call. Finding a quiet place away from pets and kids is a good first start. You should also double check that you have a strong internet connection.
Next, think about what is behind you. A clean space is a lot less distracting then a cluttered kitchen. Simply moving your computer can make a big difference on your audience’s ability to focus on you. Some virtual meeting apps let you use a virtual background which can streamline your look if you are limited in where you can meet.
Lighting also matters. You want to avoid having glare behind you. Instead, aim for even lighting. I call this “think like an Instagramer.” You can usually test this on the meeting platform in advance of the meeting. Things to consider are avoiding mixing direct natural light with artificial sources, shutting blinds to reduce glare or even moving to a different space.
While you might find your pajamas more often these days, being thoughtful about your appearance when speaking at an online meeting will add to your credibility. Dress as if you are meeting in person. You can still wear your yoga pants but consider throwing on a jacket and nice shirt for a business meeting.
Also, think about how your outfit will show on screen. I wore a shirt with thin stripes for a meeting a few days ago and the wavy appearance on the screen was distracting. A white shirt could wash out your face or maybe there is a certain style of shirt that just looks weird on camera. Test it out and make note of what works as you gain more experience with virtual meetings.
Test your microphone and camera before your meeting. You don’t want to speak and realize that no one can hear you or that your microphone is muffled. If you aren’t happy with the quality, let us know and we can point you toward the right equipment. Depending on your usage, it might be worth investing in better equipment that will help you create a stronger presence.
Setting up your profile in the meeting platform also adds to your credibility. This will make sure your name shows up during the meeting and you can even upload a headshot image that will be displayed when you first log in and if your video freezes.
Speaking of, don’t forget to test your internet beforehand. No one wants to be the person who freezes on screen! You can’t get your message across if you are the victim a bad connection.
During the Meeting
Connecting with the camera – it can be hard but it makes a big difference. There is nothing worse than someone looking at another screen while they are speaking. Put whatever you want to look at (e.g. meeting room, word document) close to the camera so your eyes naturally look at your audience. Make sure you are an engaged listener too. It can be easy to get distracted with other tasks but focusing on whoever is speaking is important. Why should they respect you if you don’t appear to be listening to them?
Gestures are a great way to emphasize your message. Test to see what fits within the camera angle and use your hands to accent your message. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. Tapping your fingers as you list off points or holding up your hands to show the size of something will draw the audience to pay attention to your words. And don’t forget about your face! Your facial cues should line up with your message, especially if you are sharing emotional content.
What do you do if something goes wrong? Keep your cool and role with the punches. A good attitude and a little humor will shine through. Everyone is adapting and the best thing to do is to cut yourself some slack and keep going.
Now Go Forth and (Virtually) Meet!
I hope these tips help you establish credibility in your upcoming online meetings. The next step? Keep playing with it. As you continue your virtual journey, you’ll learn new meeting strategies and build up more confidence when it comes time to share your message.
Onset Solutions is here to help with all your IT needs, including making sure the tech side of your virtual meetings runs smoothly. Reach out if you would like more information about additional IT tools that can help you virtually connect with others. Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working in isolation!