Womenlines takes pleasure to welcome Neha Mathur, an Image Branding Consultant as a guest contributor at Womenlines. Neha is sharing a fantastic article to enlighten Womenlines’ readers with tips to establish strong presence in virtual meetings.
Before the current COVID 19 crisis, over 5 Million US Employees, 3.5 % of the entire US Workforce were working from home at least half the time. The outbreak has forced businesses across the world to adopt a remote work policy and the number of regular telecommuting employees (excluding the self-employed population) has increased by 173% since 2005. One study estimates that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers.
As a result of this, Video Calls have now become the “New Normal” for almost everyone that is working from home, be it Leadership Connect, weekly review, a brainstorming session or a major announcement. As a result of this, how we present and conduct ourselves in these virtual meetings over Zoom, Skype and several other virtual platforms has become very crucial for all of us. We not only have to stay active and engaged during the call but also need to create an impact by our presence and communication, which is not the same as what it was when meetings were in person versus the online format.
A few points to keep in mind to maintain a strong presence during these online meetings…
- Be Appropriately Dressed
There is no doubt that working from home is very comfortable and convenient for us but at the same time, it’s important to be appropriately dressed for these online meetings. As tempting as those pairs of shorts or your PJs are but putting on a well-ironed shirt, wearing some accessories and even putting on some make act as an instant mood lifter and it puts you in the right frame of mind to attend the meeting and be your productive best.
- Frame/Position yourself well
Be aware of how you are seen by others during the call. Ensure your head and shoulders are visible and do not appear cut off at any point of time. Having a clean, clutter free background makes you come across as more professional.
Spend some time before logging into the call to figure out how far away you should sit from the computer to be fully visible and also to ensure that there are no visual distractions in the background for the other participants of the call. A little preparation will help you put your “Best face forward”.
- Be Present
It’s normal to presume that multitasking in an online meeting is very easy and nobody will notice if you are checking your emails or replying to a text on your phone. You may not need to be fully engaged in the meeting but if you are caught distracted or not paying attention, it could have a severe negative impact on your professional reputation.
Ideally close all other tabs on your computer screen and put your phone on silent during the online meetings. Remember, someone on the call is looking at you and your camera is always on.
- Don’t become a distraction to others
Working from home does come with its own set of challenges like other family members walking around us, ringing of the doorbell, sounds from the kitchen or even crying babies !
While you may have mastered the art of working amidst all these distractions, the other participants of your meeting may not have mastered it yet !
The best way to avoid these distractions is to keep yourself on Mute during the online meetings. Unmute yourself when you have to speak and remember to put yourself back on mute once done. Also, find a spot where the chances of you being disturbed are the least for the duration of the meeting. This will ensure a smooth, effective and distraction free meeting.
You do not want to be remembered as the participant “who always had some noise or distractions in the background that was constantly disturbing everyone” !!
- Speak Up
While your volume, tone and pitch are important aspects of your communication for in-person interactions, these become equally important during an online meeting. You may assume that the in-built microphone would take care of the volume but it’s always better to speak up during the online meetings. Apart from ensuring that you are audible to the other participants, you also come across as credible and confident. If you have a natural tendency to speak fast, then make a conscious effort to slow down a bit so that the others can understand what you are saying easily.
All the suggestions made above will become second nature to you with practice over a period of time. Since online meetings seem like they are here to stay for a while, why not make a positive and lasting impression on the other participants on the call.