Before 2020 Zoom may not have been part of your vocabulary. In 2021 even if you used a different platform, the verb “to Zoom” became synonymous with virtual meetings. As we embark on 2022, whatever virtual platform you are using, be it Webex, Microsoft Teams, or the countless other platforms that now exist, the question is, how skilled are you at truly owning your virtual space?
In other words, do you have “Virtual Presence”?
Just remember that the ability to own your zoom is not the same as owning a room. Maximizing your virtual presence requires a shift of mindset and acquiring a new skill set.
Here are nine things to do to ensure you capitalize on every virtual interaction.
1. Be fully present. This entails consciously focusing on the person/people you are talking to without multi-tasking: no checking email /texts or another screen.
2. Engage others. This entails consciously focusing on the person/people you are talking to without multi-tasking: no checking email /texts or another screen.
3. Assign a host. This applies to your work meetings and using Zoom for holiday celebrations and other social interactions. In all situations, everyone must participate, and the host should coordinate to ensure everyone feels part of the meeting or celebration.
4. Look into the camera. When you are talking, take care to Zoom in to stand out so that your face takes up at least a third of the screen. You can also do “the Webcam confidence” test: Take your hands from the middle of your eyes and draw an invisible straight line to the center of your camera lens.
5. Get personal. Looking into the camera is synonymous with making direct eye contact with the person you are talking to. When speaking, use your peripheral vision to glance at them and then look back at the camera.
6. Don’t look like you are in the witness protection program. You can avoid this by putting your light in front of you, so you are visible and not behind you to look like a silhouette or a cardboard cutout.
7. Backgrounds need to be clean and uncluttered. If you are using a virtual background, make sure it is appropriate and not distracting. For example, I use a green screen to ensure that my virtual backgrounds are clean and not fuzzy.
8. Follow up with people you are meeting virtually for the first time. Remember, there is nothing organic about virtual interactions, and it requires extra attention to develop relationships that we know are critical to our personal and professional success.
Arrange a time to connect after the meeting to give yourself a chance to get to know the other person as you would if you were meeting in person.
9. Use your voice. Slowing down speech and articulating can help ensure you come across as clear and charismatic. You could even consider investing in high-quality microphones and headphones that will vastly improve the quality of your virtual interactions.