how to rock your virtual meeting

How to Rock Your Virtual Meetings-15 Tips to Being the Superstar

I used to think of meetings as an 85% waste of time. But now they’re imperative. We can’t just pop into someone’s office to ask a few questions. We aren’t able to bump into a teammate in the hallway and give an impromptu report.

So now virtual meetings are necessary. And people’s unfamiliarity (and maybe even dislike) is causing errors. Errors that can make you seem less intelligent or less savvy. And certainly less impressive. 

Here are some tips to make you a shining star at any virtual meeting.

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  1. Use a selfie-light and an external microphone.
     
  2. Sit in the middle of your screen.

  3. Drag the other person’s video to the top center of your screen, so it looks like you’re looking at them.
     
  4. Body language rules in real life still apply to webcam meetings.
     
  5. Build rapport at the beginning of the meeting by telling a short, 20-second anecdote.
     
  6. Exaggerate your pauses & leave a break after another participant speaks.
     
  7. Be prepared with important messages.
     
  8. Use facial expressions that supplement your message; we can’t say “I hear you” on a zoom meeting.
     
  9. Dress the part. Be professional from the waist up; wear a collar or a scarf. 

  10. Smile and use greetings like “good morning,” “nice to see you,” etc.

  11. Use your mute button when there’s noise in the background and get accustomed to turning it back on when it’s your turn to speak.

  12. Keep hydrated; taking a sip of water also helps you to pause.

  13. Don’t sound like a robot. Make sure you use different lengths for each word.

  14. Find your “relaxed place.” Being relaxed increases your performance in everything you do.

  15. Putting a little time and energy into improving your ability to convey your message persuasively in virtual meetings is well worth it. The return on your investment is a hundred-fold.


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Technical Tips 

Get a selfie light or two. Your camera doesn’t pick up all the light from the room and you’ll appear in darkness if there’s light behind you. Not only does it make you look better, but people can see your face. That’s ultra-important for nuances in communicating. And it makes you look more professional.

Get a good external microphone. Being well lit and sounding crystal clear will make you appear more professional. That’s serious points. 

Test your webcam and microphone beforehand. Make sure you’re sitting in the middle of the picture. Also, make sure that your meeting mates are on the same screen as your webcam. Nobody wants to talk to the side of your head. There’s no love there.

Make sure your webcam is at eye level. Not only will you look more attractive, but you’ll be able to communicate better. It’ll be as natural as if you’re sitting across from the person. Put a few books under your laptop to raise it to eye level. Or get fancy and use one of those desks that raise and lower.

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how to rock your virtual meeting

 

Where to Look

Position the person’s picture window as close to your camera as possible, so it looks like you’re looking at them. Drag it up as high as you can. If you can’t see them well or only see the top of their head, you need to tell them. If, for some reason, they are unable to get on the camera, visualize them smiling and loving you. Don’t sit there thinking they hate you. That’s undermining.

I see a lot of folks out there advising that you look only at the camera. But people can see when you’re looking at them, and it makes them feel warm and fuzzy. We need more #WarmAndFuzzy in virtual meetings. As long as their video window on your screen is close to the camera, it’s OK. 

However, there are times when you’ll want to look directly into the camera, like when you’re making a crucial point. And when the meeting is jam-packed. In this case, let your eyes go naturally from the camera to faces. When people are nodding their heads, you can do the same.

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What Your Viewers Should See

Try to make it so you look like a talking head. Just your head and shoulders are in view. In other words, sit  close to the computer with your webcam. Make sure that the person you’re talking to is on the same screen and you keep their pic close to the top of your screen right under your webcam.

I don’t discriminate against the folks with the unmade bed and the laundry basket in the background, but to appear professional, you’ll want to consider your environment.

You get to be at home or wherever you happen to be at the time of the virtual meeting, so that’s a plus, but make sure the people you’re meeting with don’t see the surroundings if you don’t want them to.

Situate yourself with your back to a wall with a picture or a plant. Or use a cool digital background. They are available all over the web. But you’ll need a solid wall behind you for them to work well.

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virtual meetings



 

Build Rapport

If you’re meeting someone for the first time or your virtual meeting happens to be a job interview, build rapport at the beginning of the meeting. Tell a story that will encourage your interviewer to tell you one in reply. 

Lots of research suggests that when someone connects with you, they’re more likely to hire you.

Body Language

Body language rules IRL still apply for webcam meetings. You can mirror people’s arm or head movements. If they lean to the left, you lean to the right. But you may find that this happens naturally. 

Do remember that as in real life, if you need someone to see your point of view, keep your arms open. Even if they can’t see your arms (or they may notice that your shoulders are indicating your arms are open), they will feel the openness coming from you. Open body posture will help them to be more susceptible to your ideas.

Make sure you use gestures. We aren’t able to say, “uh-huh” or “I getcha” because the audio cuts out and things get awkward. So be sure to use a thumbs up and nods to let people know you’re understanding them and connecting with them.

 

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Exaggerate Your Pauses

Leave more pauses in your speech. Sometimes the technology makes it so only one mic can work at a time, so leave a break after your communicative partner 🙂 speaks. Regardless of the technology, be sure to leave a second or two before you speak.

I recommend practicing pausing. When someone asks you a question IRL, wait a beat or two before responding. Not only will you formulate a better answer but you’ll come across as a more thoughtful person. We want to hire and work with thoughtful people. You can even make it a game with your spouse for practice. Don’t be afraid of pausing!

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Be Prepared with Essential Messages

If doing a remote job interview, be sure to have some essential messages prepared. The awesome part of a webcam interview is that you can leave notes directly on your computer. As in life, make sure that the information that you need your future employer to know about you is well crafted and practiced.

Keep a bullet point list on a post-it note or tuck it under your selfie light so you can look at your interviewer and see the note at the same time. The small amount of time it takes to prepare your essential messages or a good story will be paid back to you in spades.

 

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Facial Expressions

It’s nice to let people know you understand them, and IRL you can say, “uhuh,” and “I see,” etc., but on the webcam only use facial expressions and nodding. Any noise coming from you can be distracting and mess with the audio from the speaker.

I can’t stop waving goodbye to people at the end of the meeting. I’ve heard it criticized a bit, but I keep doing it. In addition to facial expressions, I do a thumbs up to convey to the speaker that I agree or am having a positive reaction to their message.

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Dress the Part

Wear solid colors, dress professionally from the waist up. Feel free to wear your pajama bottoms. 🙂 Some people say they like to dress as if they’re at work because it makes them feel more professional. I like to wear a necklace or a scarf.

You don’t have to take a shower but it’s nice to brush your hair 🙂

Use Your Mute Button

If there’s noise in the background, don’t be afraid to press mute or turn off your microphone. Whenever you’re not the speaker, you can turn on mute. Just remember to turn it back on again before you speak. Don’t worry, do it enough, and it’ll become a habit.

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Check Your Look in The Mirror

Five minutes before the meeting use your camera or laptop video to check for dripping makeup, spinach in your teeth, or coffee stains on your shirt. Or leave a small mirror next to your computer.

 

virtual meetings success



Keep Hydrated

Drink loads of water to keep your throat from getting dry, and for heavens’ sake, don’t clear your throat! Do the suck-swallow instead to get rid of any mucous that may be hovering around your vocal cords.

FindYourRelaxedPlace

Did you think you were going to get away without me telling you to do your relaxation exercises? No chance! It’s of the utmost importance that you be completely relaxed before and during any communicative situation. Virtual meetings are no exception. Otherwise, you run the risk of being weirdly awkward. That’s not the look you’re going for.

Don’t Sound Like a Robot

It’s a pervasive misconception that to speak better, you must work on your pronunciation. Nyet! Untrue! I can’t tell you how many people, who speak well during comfortable times, start to sound like a robot once they’re on a virtual meeting. 

Use more air for speech so your voice will project and make sure the words in each sentence are glued together, not separated like a robot.

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Putting a little time and energy into improving your ability to convey your message persuasively is well-worth it. The return on your investment is a hundred-fold. Anyone you know who’s a great communicator on and off the internet has worked on it. Wouldn’t it behoove you to do the same
 

Watch this video of Ita Olsen: Why am I Not Automatically an Incredible Speaker

24 thoughts on “How to Rock Your Virtual Meetings-15 Tips to Being the Superstar”

  1. These tips really work. I had an interview and always get nervous during them. I followed these tips, found my relaxed place, practiced my essential message and aced it. Thank you, Convey!!

  2. Loved this! Especially the part about pauses! Excellent advice! I totally wish everyone read this cause I don’t enjoy seeing up people’s nostrils!

  3. The point about pausing carefully is well-taken. Anyone who’s been on the receiving end of a fast-talker can appreciate this point.

  4. I like the “Be prepared with essential messages.” I frequently don’t know what to say when the meetings start and not everyone is there.

    1. Yes, when the meeting starts is the perfect time to use your anecdotes. Think about what’s going on in your life, the things you talk about regularly, and practice telling those stories with a recorder. They should be between 10 and 30 seconds long. Just enough to give the other meeting participants food for thought so they’ll have comebacks 🙂

  5. And the throat clearing thing! I was in a meeting the other day and this guy just kept clearing his throat! And I feel like I can’t say anything! I wonder if he knows he does it!

  6. This is helpful. I don’t know. I’m still working so I shouldn’t complain but this Co-vid thing is bringing me down. I’m not really dressing the part and I’m lucky if I brush my hair. But I’m going to take your advice about checking my look in the mirror to make sure there’s no food in my teeth! Maybe I’ll leave a comb on my desk. Thanks for the inspiration. They are good tips.

  7. The simple tip of staying hydrated is important especially if you are to cough after talking a bit. Lighting for me is still a challenge at times in my office but maybe having one of the screen backgrounds is best. Thanks for the tips!

    1. The selfie ring light fits right on your laptop. And I’m not being sponsored by them! You can also use a couple of stand-up reading lights. But, of course, they take up space on your desk. Having your face lit up makes a person look more professional and more attractive 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Lisa!

    2. The screen backgrounds are good too. Try to make sure you have a flat wall behind you. A green screen is preferred.

  8. I absolutely loved and needed these tips!! I had a presentation for 40+ all virtual and I felt more prepared than ever… Thank you Ita!

  9. These are some great tips – so important these days. I had never considered the point about exaggerating pauses, but it makes a lot of sense.

    The hydration one too, nothing is more annoying than having a dry throat when you need to speak on one of these calls.

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