Now that virtual meetings are often a daily occurrence in our work life, it’s important to take them as seriously and thoughtfully as face-to-face meetings. Often our only interactions with our colleagues, bosses, or clients are through online video platforms which only allow for a very limited view of ourselves and little time to make an impression. The following tips will help you make the most professional and digitally-savvy impression at any virtual meeting.
Arrive a Few Minutes Early
Waiting until the exact meeting time to log in is risky due to possible technical difficulties that could arise. Call in 5-10 minutes early in order to catch any glitches before the meeting begins. Arriving early also shows everyone that you’ve planned well for the meeting and it allows time for small talk which can help develop important business relationships.
Frame Yourself Intentionally
Frame yourself so that your head and shoulders fill the screen, ensuring that your head is not cut off. A ring light is an easy way to make sure your face is well-lit. Be cautious when using virtual backgrounds as they can look unnatural and distracting. Before the call, always do a “background check” and remove any clutter that will be picked up by the camera. Just remember, a blank wall is always better than a messy room!
Turn Off Notifications
Put your computer (and any other devices that are in the room) on Do Not Disturb mode. This will stop any rings and dings from distracting the meeting while you are unmuted. Do Not Disturb on MacOS will also stop any notifications from popping up while you are sharing your screen.
Be Sure You are Heard
Keeping yourself muted unless you’re talking is always a good practice; then unmuting is a signal to the group that you have something to say. Look at the camera and speak clearly. Using earbuds or a headset can create a fuller sound to your voice and lessen any irritating noise in your background.
Use Your Computer (Not Your Smartphone)
The apps on your smartphone are very convenient, but they don’t allow for a professional look due to the shaky image that results from holding the phone. Call in from your computer and you’ll have a stable image and the ability to take notes if necessary.
Show your engagement and interest by giving the meeting your full attention. Make it a rule to keep your hands off your keyboard as much as possible unless you need to take notes. Also, taking a sip of coffee is one thing; eating a sandwich is another issue. Unless it’s a lunch meeting, eating and chewing on camera can be distracting to the other participants. Saving your meal for after the call will avoid any embarrassing attention it could draw.
Focus on Your Camera
Direct eye contact is one of the best ways to ensure that the point you are making has the biggest impact, especially in virtual meetings. It can be challenging to focus on your camera dot and not others in the meeting, but practice looking directly at the camera primarily while you are speaking and it will become more natural. Lifting your computer with books or a laptop stand to get your camera at eye-level is always best for a professional, clear camera angle.
By Emily Hinshaw
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