Since virtual meetings are now a thing, they might as well be a good thing! As in a good thing to share your message, make a great impression, showcase your brand, and ultimately drive business.
(Related: 8 Knockout Approaches to Virtual Networking)
Here are 9 knockout approaches you can put into practice today!
OK, a little background! If your background looks sloppy, unkempt, and unprofessional, it shouldn’t be your background. A nice bookshelf with neatly stacked books works for most professions. Of course, if your living room or den needs to be the backdrop, fine, as long as it’s clean enough to invite company over. There is always the option of using a virtual background and green screen (Zoom has a great feature). I use a green screen with a nifty virtual background of a boxing ring. Fancy that! Whatever your background, make sure it leaves the impression you want to make.
2. Attire and Grooming
It’s still appropriate to dress as you would for a business casual meeting, at least from the waist up. Although I love t-shirts, I’m much more comfortable wearing a white button-down shirt (my brand by the way) when delivering webinars or in business meetings with a prospect or client. As for grooming, same sort of thing. Shower, shave, make up, brush across the hair. Use your best judgement when it comes to your meetings and how important you want to make others feel.
That includes checking email, texting, web searches, Solitaire, other work. We’ve all been guilty of this in virtual meetings, webinars, and maybe even during podcasts. Although we’re in an environment where we all have our share of attention deficit disorder, try to keep multi-tasking to a minimum, especially when the camera is on you. It’s rude to give others the impression that what they’re saying is not important. And the same holds true in “live” meetings too!
4. Engagement of Audience
It’s often challenging to engage an audience or to keep the audience’s attention when communicating through a mediated platform. When appropriate, let attendees know you’ll be calling on them periodically or mention people by name at the beginning of a meeting. I love greeting attendees of my webinars as they arrive and engaging in conversation with them. This way, I can establish a rapport and consider how I might integrate them (if possible) into my speaking points. Also, if attendees know I’m aware they’re in the webinar, they tend to be more present and focused in the meeting.
5. Minimize Distractions
If you have family, friends, children, or pets around, or you happen to be expecting a delivery, you will no doubt be interrupted. If this is unavoidable, certainly let your audience know upfront that there might be a break in the action and that you’re apologizing in advance. Of course, sometimes life happens but there is a fine line between doing everything you can to find the best location (and time) possible for a meeting and simply being inconsiderate of others’ time.
6. Get Quality Equipment
Microphones, cameras, and wireless connections. Usually, that’s all you need. But sometimes it’s not so easy. Some laptops have don’t have cameras. Or good audio. I have an internet connection that is so poor that I’m purchasing new routers and modems as we speak. Phone calls with my internet provider and service calls have not resolved the issue, but I’ll get there soon! The point is to do everything you can to make your virtual meeting and the experience of your attendees to be as easy, seamless, and fun as possible.
7. Respect the Time
Start and end meetings on time. In fact, it’s a good practice to begin logging onto a meeting a few minutes early so you can anticipate connectivity issues or confusion locating links, meeting IDs and passcodes. Also, the tempo for most Virtual Meetings seems to be faster than face-to-face meetings. Maybe because you’re already settled with your Caffe Macchiato before the meeting even begins. If possible, cut to the quick when leading an online meeting. You want to minimize the urge of your attendees to multi-task and get bored when meeting with you — not the impression you want to leave. Of course, have fun and feel free to discuss both social and professional topics as appropriate but know your audience and have respect for their time.
8. Make Access Easy for Them
When you can, communicate that you will take the initiative to set up all meetings in whatever platform you’re using, send calendar invites, and schedule timing according to their time zones, not yours. For example, when I discuss scheduling a meeting with someone on the West Coast, I’ll communicate proposed times in Pacific time (rather than in my own time zone Eastern time) to make it easier for them to consider and ultimately schedule. I’d rather deal with the heavy math myself. The easier you make it for others to meet with you, the better.
9. Don’t Eat
Eating when others can see and hear you sets an informal tone (maybe alright for FaceTime) and is a bit on the rude side when you’re in a virtual meeting, especially a business meeting. Would you eat if you were being interviewed for a job or looking to be hired by a client? It’s annoying to watch and listen to someone chew, talk with their mouth full, and make all the sounds that comes from eating. Especially through a camera and microphone. Unless eating is necessary during an online business meeting because you have no breaks in the day (which might be another issue!), try to avoid eating when on camera and even when you’re not. Sipping coffee, tea, or water is fine!
If you haven’t noticed, our schedules are becoming filled with more and more Virtual Meetings which prompts the need to get better at them.
Follow these knockout approaches to virtual meetings and let your attendees get the most out of their experience with you.
Lights, camera, action!
— Read 7 Business Networking Reminders, on ThinkAdvisor.