This time last year Zoom may not have been part of your vocabulary, but fast forward a year: Now, even if you are using a different platform, the verb “to Zoom” has become synonymous with virtual meetings.
So, now that we are nine months into mostly virtual encounters, how are you faring?
Would you say your Zooms (and other virtual meeting platforms) are a boom or a bust? 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 the acquisition of 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: Ask open ended questions. Nod and smile to indicate you are listening and encouraging others to participate.
- 3. Assign a host. This is not only applicable to you work meetings, but also if you are using Zoom for holiday celebrations and other social interactions. In all situations, it’s important that everyone participates, and the host should coordinate to ensure everyone feels part of the meeting or celebration.
- 4. Look into the camera when you are talking and 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 middle 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 other people are talking, 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 so that you 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 that it is appropriate and not distracting. 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 so critical to our personal and professional success.
9. Arrange a time to connect after the meeting so that you give yourself a chance to get to know the other person as you would if you were meeting in person.
- 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.