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What is the first surprise for most people managing a long time of virtual interaction? It takes more energy to appear with presence on screen than it does face to face. We are isolated, worn out and bewildered. Being exceptional and pushing your career forward will take thought, preparation and focus.
Presently, it is not an ideal opportunity to blend in or be seen as complacent. As organizations are making cuts, or on the other hand, making promotions and raise decisions, you must remain engaged and visible, even virtually, so your ideas and contemplations are heard.
The most ideal approach to be exceptional in a virtual meeting is to make the decision to be an active participant. As a participant, focusing on the speaker is an active role you play, and it takes more time, attention and energy than you would think. Take this account of a CEO of a major consulting firm who recently shared her experience of attending a virtual training. She attended all the sessions and felt, generally that she was focusing. However, when several other participants shared what they had learned, she was amazed by their meaningful takeaways. She had no memory of what these participants were talking about. Even worse, one of the takeaways was a potential game-changer to this CEO’s company and she missed it since she was not fully focusing.
Is there anything more distracting than the notification of a new email or a web WhatsApp message? When we hear it, we are inclined to look. This habit not only pulls your concentration, but can also be an indication to others that you are not present and is not paying attention to the meeting as you should.
Turn off alarms, pop-ups and your email to avoid multi-tasking. Even better, take your phone out of the room so that you don’t even see it. You can achieve more, faster if you will stay focused. As a matter of fact, if the entire team could agree to hold “no distraction meetings,” those video calls will go twice as quick as usual.
Don’t wait for the right day to tidy up. There are three goals here: minimize distractions, have lots of space to work and appear more professional. On video calls, people would not be able to see the surface of your desk, but they can see whatever is behind you. Carefully observe the room you have chosen for the meeting. Every item that is visible behind you will be an element of distraction and unintentionally pull the viewers’ thoughts away from the actual message.
Take the instance of two small business owners recently pitching virtually. Both of them had gripping sales pitches; the difference was the customer’s viewpoint. One sat in a messy office with files scattered haphazardly everywhere. The other pitched from a chair with a simple, calm and still life on the wall and good lighting. You can most likely guess who must have won.
Two of the most powerful instruments important for you to communicate your message are your voice and body. They convey your tone, intention and expertise. Warm up your voice and body so that you are at your full energy. A few push-ups, neck rolls and a bit of humming should get you going.
Before the meeting, check that the connections are working and that your video and audio are set. Ensure that everything is charged and is working well. Also check your internet connection if it is stable. Then, have a back-up plan. If your Wi-fi does not work, keep your phone’s data network on so that the meeting can be accessed.
Understand the purpose behind the meeting. For instance, are you sharing a report; is to get information; or will you and your team be asked for input, bringing about decisions or undertaking tasks? Your preparations will probably be diverse for each purpose. Review any materials that were sent previously. If you have something to share on the screen, have it pulled up on your device so that you can quickly and easily share your screen during the meeting
To be exceptional and have your thoughts and ideas heard, you must engross. When you have an idea or information, lift your hand so the leader can see that you have something to say or comment on. If you would preferably type your contribution in the chat, that is also fine. Yet hearing your voice and interacting verbally is more powerful and impressive.
It is one thing to set up. It is another to prepare for your colleagues. If you have a plan or materials ahead of time, how can you support the meeting coordinator? Would you be able to offer to present one of the points and ease the heat off of that person? Another option is to give a couple of inquiries you will pose ahead of time so that the coordinator knows what is in store also.
The joke, obviously, is that when you are on a virtual call, you can dress in “business mullet” style: professional on top and casual or party on the bottom. Do what you like with this pattern, but do consider your appearance as well. Solid tones are always a decent bet for video. If you wear jewelry, avoid things like stacked wristbands or bracelets that make distracting noise.
Focus yourself in your camera and test your lighting so that you can be seen appropriately. If you are in front of a window, use the light for your face. If your back is facing the window, you will have an awful outline impact. You don’t need to buy a light pack except if you are in a dull and dark room. Just be sure you can be seen.
If you are directly under an overhead light, you should either turn off the lights or move free from under the light. Sit upright and definitely don’t eat during the meeting except if it is a working lunch.
Always show up a few minutes early for the meeting so you can wish and welcome others. You can also get involved in some casual conversation before the meeting begins. This will help you in creating a positive impression and maintaining relationships. It could even grow your network and organization.
Online business meetings and conferences require you to think a bit differently about how to appear, how to plan and prepare as well as how to pay full attention. As you take a shot at these skills, be aware of what you are learning. When your team meets face to face once more, these skills will translate back to the workplace and you will realize how to keep separating yourself from the pack as a high-performing professional.
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