Chances are if you are growing a business at some point you will need to schedule virtual meetings to connect with telecommuters, give a presentation to clients, connect with outsourced partners, host a webinar, or pre-screen potential new hires.
Whatever the reason, if you are an entrepreneur, you will find yourself hosting, or invited to, a virtual meeting. So, it’s important to know how to conduct yourself on screen. Follow these simple steps to ensure your next virtual meeting is a success.
Dress for your audience. If you are calling into a formal pitch meeting then consider wearing a tie or blazer. Even if your team opts for more flexible dress code, you still want to look presentable so stick to something classic like dark, solid colours. Stripes or loud patterns don’t transmit well on camera and could be distracting for your potential new client.
Don’t neglect what’s out of sight. Even if the only visible part of you is from the torso up, you never know if you might have to get up to shut a window, switch on a lamp, or close the door. If you stand up to reveal fuzzy pink pajama bottoms, you will not only create a mortifying situation for yourself and everyone involved, you will be deemed unprofessional and unprepared. Also, avoid wearing anything that could interfere with the video or sound quality of the call: nothing that jingles or shines too brightly, like a stack of metal bangles or a large clunky watch.
Enunciate your words so the video and audio can pick it up. Project your voice without shouting, and make an effort to slow yourself down if you tend to speak rapidly or mumble. Find some time to practice speaking in front of a mirror. As awkward as this may seem, it will benefit you more than you know. It will help you visualize how your audience views you, and highlight any unnecessary gestures you may make unconsciously while talking.
Don’t interrupt. Even if you think someone is making a false statement, or if you are just dying to make your point, wait until the person speaking has finished their point, pause, and then jump in with your contribution. We all know it’s rude to cut someone off, but this could pose further problems in a virtual meeting, as it interferes with the sound quality of the call. To make it really clear you have something to contribute, you could even slightly raise your hand to signal you would like to talk.
Find a quiet place in your office, or home office, with a neutral background. It’s important that nothing distracts from the call. Consider outside noise – such as road traffic or construction – and acoustics, and try to work around that. If you have frequent virtual meetings, it might be worth investing in soundproof walls for one of your conference rooms, or home office.
Don’t interact with outside influences during your call. Make sure you notify anyone who’s likely to contact you – colleagues, etc. – so they know to wait until later to get in touch. And if you absolutely have to take another call or answer an email during the meeting, make sure you mute your microphone. And don’t leave irrelevant browser windows or programs running during the call, especially if you are going to share your screen with other attendees. Only leave tabs open that you need to access during the meeting, perhaps for a presentation or similar.
The Mute Question
If you have to do something noisy, like cough or clear your throat, then by all means, mute your microphone. No one wants to hear your sneeze amplified through their speaker or earbuds. Also, if you are unable to find a quiet location, then keep the mute on whenever you aren’t speaking to cut down on background noise.
Don’t mute if you think it will encourage distraction. Just because other attendees can’t hear you doesn’t mean you should multitask. If you talk to other people, answer calls, or work on other projects, people can still see your movements and it will distract whoever is currently speaking.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Gemma Falconer is a Senior Campaign Specialist for Citrix and GoToMeeting and part of the Demand Generation team with a specialty in webinars and content creation. In her spare time she enjoys playing volleyball, learning Portuguese and eating cake – lots of cake. Connect with @GemmaFalconer and @gotomeeting on Twitter.
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