Date: October 19, 2020
By now you may be suffering from virtual fatigue! Whether on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx or any of a host of virtual platforms most of us have accepted this is the new normal and we are making it work. Except just making it work is not helping your “net impression” with senior management, customers or any of your important stakeholder audiences. You must not only log in, you must show up! Early on we were excused when we didn’t turn on our camera or made excuses why it didn’t work. Today, if you don’t have your camera on you are considered only half attending and it’s noticed. We still forgive the occasional dog barking or children playing in the background but if you attend in a baseball cap and sweatshirt when you would typically dress professionally for a meeting you are sending signals that can’t be ignored.
IMPROVE YOUR VIRTUAL APPEARANCE
Some simple adjustments and fine tuning will help you overcome some of the most common mistakes when it comes to presenting virtually or leading a meeting. If you can find one, purchase a higher quality webcam. Most webcams on laptops or desktops are not positioned well and often the quality is lacking. Do not position the camera so it shoots up at your chin and ceiling. An external camera can be positioned so it is at eye level or slightly higher which is more flattering. Pull up your video settings in your virtual program and check the boxes for “Enable HD” and “Touch up my Appearance”.
Also take the time to find the best background for your camera shot. Do not use fake or virtual backgrounds as most cameras don’t handle them well. They look artificial and can be distracting and even unprofessional. Instead create a “video set” by setting up a corner of a room or wall that has some artwork, plants or other nice accessories. Make sure your background is not cluttered and that you are not backlit by windows. If the room is dark sit facing a window or purchase an LED “fill light” which you can find online for not a lot of cost. You must avoid shadows on your face. Make sure the audience can see your facial expressions and eye contact. Sit back a bit from the camera and frame yourself so you can use your hand gestures naturally without interfering with the camera.
EYE CONTACT COUNTS!
If you have to look too far left or right to view the other participants, your eye contact will be off and you will not appear to be talking to them directly. You can move the video thumbnails of the audience to the top of the screen by dragging them up as high as you can. They will spread out under the camera at the top. You can also view the video of participants more specifically by choosing “gallery view”, “full-screen view”, or “speaker view”. It’s important to keep your eye contact with the audience because the visual aspect of your communication is extremely important.
It is definitely harder to keep the audience engaged during virtual meetings. People fatigue after a couple of hours and distractions like email, texts and other activities can interfere. Some clients of ours have said they’ve been stuck in 4 and 6-hour meetings which are way too long. You must give people a break. Have an agenda and stick to it. Finish up discussions and make decisions then wrap up. Your team will be much more productive! #presentingonzoom #executivepresence #virtualpresentations #executivecommunicationcoaching