Today with so many virtual meetings, it is essential to know how to manage and control the virtual environment. People want to improve their effectiveness and presence virtually. It doesn’t have to be confusing if you follow some simple guidelines in preparing your virtual meeting. Many elements go into a successful virtual meeting. What the camera sees, your expression, the background, and the content are just a few of the factors to consider. As a TV and video director, I have directed over 400 commercials and hundreds of programs. The one thing that I have learned is that the management and design of the message are essential to the program’s success. There is a set of techniques and skills that can improve anyone one’s virtual experience.
Here are four techniques and tips on how to improve the effectiveness of any online meeting.
1) THE CAMERA
- Be even with the camera, so you are looking directly into the camera. Don’t be looking down or up at the camera. Eyes are important in communicating virtually. Viewers will look at your eyes to pick up signs of expression and meaning. So be sure you are looking into the camera when you talk and listen.
- Don’t sit too far away from the camera. It will send a message that you are not engaged.
- Don’t turn away from the camera and do something else like looking at your phone.
- Don’t look down and away from the screen when someone is talking. It means you are not interested.
- Be aware of your background. Design the background area so it doesn’t distract. Bookcases are popular these days but be sure the viewers can’t read titles. Pictures or paintings should be non-descript and blend with the background. When it comes to walls, solid colors are better than designs.
- Don’t sit in front of windows. The light coming from a window will make your face look dark. Make sure the light coming from a window is in front of you or to the side.
3) YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Studies have shown that the messages we send consist of 15% of what we say and 85% of how we say it. Many times, viewers get more meaning from our body language than they get from the words we use. Since the camera reduces what viewers see, faces become more important in communicating. Create a little headroom above your head so you can see your entire face. When you talk, speak with enthusiasm, and concentrate on what you are saying, this will focus you and help you send clear messages.
Facial expressions are the signals we send to tell people how we feel about something. Be careful to send the right signals. Don’t frown or push your eyebrows down when you are listening intensely. It could make you seem angry or mad at what someone is saying. While in a virtual meeting, check your image once in a while to see your facial expressions while listening.
4) SHORT ATTENTION SPAN
If you are conducting a meeting, be aware that the attention span of viewers and participants virtually is shorter than in a face-to-face meeting. Since there is less to relate to and to see, viewers search for new stimuli sooner than face-to-face encounters. Therefore, when you select your content, do it with the short attention span factor in mind. A good guide is to change stimuli every five to seven minutes. You can accomplish this by using short stories to illustrate your topic. Videos are good to introduce ideas and set up the importance of how they relate to the participants’ self-interest. During the virtual meeting, reinforcing how the subject matter relates to the viewers’ self-interest helps revitalize attention span. Every time you remind the viewers of the connection between your message and their self-interest, their brains reconnect and become aware of you and your message. So, change stimuli and talk to the self-interest of your viewers, and you will be successful in delivering your messages and keeping the attention of your audience.
These tips will guide you through any virtual meeting and help connect your messages to your viewers. Use them and improve your effectiveness and presence virtually. For more information on presenting and communicating, check out my book Present! Connect! on Amazon or Apple books or at my website presentconnect.net.
If your organization struggles with the virtual environment, contact GPI Communications to see how we can help you begin to capitalize on the opportunities virtually. Your future business depends on the decisions you and your organization make today. For more information or a proposal, contact Tom by emailing: [email protected] or filling out the contact form here. You may feel free to call Tom at 856-261-0912.