When I invented the ZoomScore™ last year, the most important success factors when using Zoom for business were wardrobe, background, setting and video-on. People would ask me how to look good on camera, what to wear, and how to set up the shot.
Nearly a year later, virtual meetings are a fact of life while WFH. But that does not make them any easier. While you may have aced the basics of showing up so that you are seen and heard, the virtual environment has become more nuanced.
Today, my inbox is filled with questions regarding meeting management. Remote team leaders are struggling to hold attention, encourage participation and increase meeting satisfaction.
To answer these questions better, I took to Clubhouse and invited a few dozen clients, former colleagues, professional speakers, and meeting planners to chat informally.
Their answers ranged from established best practices to some out-of-the-box ideas to make video meetings better. Here are summaries of their 9 best tips.
1. Set meeting protocols for video on.
No one likes to talk to faceless black tiles on the screen. If you are leading a meeting, set the ground rules when you send the invitation and enforce them. Vary up modalities. Ask yourself if the business purpose could be achieved with an audio-only conference instead of a video call for a change.
2. Do not run a meeting by yourself.
Team up with others to perform technical tasks, advance slides, host waiting rooms, monitor chat rooms, record meetings, launch polls, facilitate breakouts, run captions, and oversee transcriptions. This way your attention is focused on leading discussions, inviting input, and keeping the energy flowing.
3. Ask for feedback.
When you are talking to a webcam, you do not get the full benefits of the feedback that in-person presentations provide. You may not see the smiles, nodding heads, or body language that signal how your audience is responding to what you are saying. So, ask them how they are doing. What do they think about what you said? Does it make sense? Do they understand?
4. Energize your performance.
Despite the lack of real-time feedback from your video audience, you need to be energized yet authentic. Use all your personal resources — voice, facial expressions, posture, and gestures – to invite people into the conversation. Smile 50% more than you normally would. Call people by name. Ask for their opinions.
5. Kill the slide deck.
Presentations need to focus on what is important to the agenda at hand. Kill the slides unless the meeting would not make sense without them. If you must run through slides, share just a few at a time and return to full screen and invite discussion.
6. Look and act like a leader.
Be hyper aware that everything in your shot says something about you. If you want to command attention, model the appearance and behavior of a leader. Dress professionally and style your set to match your brand and message. Project a commanding presence by standing up when you speak or maintain a strong vertical posture while sitting.
7. Do not read a script.
When presenting or speaking on video calls, it is tempting to read. Do not do it. People can tell. Your eye-shifting makes it obvious. You sound robotic and disengaged. Instead, use the proven techniques of the physical world: bullets, mind mapping, memorization, and speaker notes for slides.
8. Use vocal variety.
Virtual presenters tend to go on autopilot for lack of immediate cues from the audience. Changing your volume of speech, enunciating, adding vocal inflection, altering the pitch of your voice, or pausing before and after key words or phrases adds vigor to your delivery.
9. Play up-tempo music and sound effects.
Sprinkle some music or sound effects at appropriate intervals to spice up the agenda. A sales director friend tells me she uses gong and chime sound effects to change the energy and pacing during her weekly meetings.
As hybrid work styles take hold, our proficiency in virtual meeting management grows, too. Plus, advancements in hardware and software are bringing high-quality video conferencing to every type of meeting space. Soon, video-enabled rooms will be ubiquitous–all the more reason to up-level your skills today.