When was the last time you had an Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist coach you on how to look great on camera? On today’s episode, Karin Reed, co-author of Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work, shares her wisdom on 7 virtual meeting tips so you can be effective, look great, sound great, and create great participation and engagement during your hybrid and virtual meetings.
Today, many leaders are not thinking about how they show up on the other side of the camera. These leaders are doing a great disservice to themselves and their teams because they are primarily going to have to lead through various virtual lenses for now and into the future. If leaders want to maximize how they communicate, connect and show up with their teams, the only way to do that is by following these simple steps.
1. Get Back to the Basics
Very few leaders actually follow best practices when it comes to leading virtual meetings. Before the pandemic, most meetings were bad in person; as these bad meetings moved virtually, they became virtually unbearable. When it comes to getting back to the basics, Joe Allen says common sense is often uncommon practice.
Get back to the basics by focusing on applying best meeting practices to your meetings.
- Create an agenda in advance in collaboration with your stakeholders.
- Make the agenda relevant for those who are attending so that they know what to expect.
- Invest the time and energy in meeting preparation so that you don’t leave anything to chance.
- Start and end on time.
2. Attend to Participation
As a leader, remember the potential pitfalls in participation that can occur in hybrid and virtual meetings. That pitfall is the lack of participation. We are wired to be passive bystanders when it comes to anything with a screen. We have been conditioned to sit at screens as we watch TV, but in virtual and hybrid meetings, we want our attendees to act.
Lean into the tools of the platform; such as chat, polls, breakout rooms, and thumbs up/thumbs down function. Ask open ended questions and invite participants to voice their thoughts, concerns, ideas, and opinions. Also, consider bringing someone into the meeting as the moderator to help ensure everyone’s voices are heard. Ask questions in the chat when listeners may need a little more time to think and then respond.
Participation is going to be even more challenging in a hybrid environment.
For example, in hybrid virtual meetings, you have some people remote, some in a conference room, and maybe one person in their office. In these hybrid meetings, leaders need to make sure they are considering how they will create even participation across the board. This is going to be the real issue as we head into hybrid meetings.
3. Favor Remote Attendees First
Far too often, remote meeting attendees feel as if they get left out of meetings. One of the most important of the 7 virtual meeting tips is to remember is to favor the remote attendees first. They take their time to show up to a meeting and don’t get acknowledged. When they don’t get asked for their thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions, they decide to tune-out or leave the meeting. This makes them feel unheard, questioning why they were in that meeting in the first place. As the leader, acknowledging the remote attendees right away, shows you value them from the beginning. It demonstrates that you see them, welcome them, and are looking forward to their input. Continue to find opportunities to encourage their participation.
4. Consider How You Lead Through the Lens
How you show up through the lens will impact your results with your team. We’ve been leading virtual meetings for over 15 months and still leaders and C-suite executives are making critical mistakes that hinder their messages. Poor lighting, audio and camera placement throws off your message.
These mistakes impact how people perceive you and make it more difficult for people to receive your message. Try your best to make sure you show up as close to the in person experience as possible. This means leaders need to create ways that allow people to easily read their facial expressions, hear their voice, and see their face. Make sure you have proper lighting, camera placement and clear audio. Camera placement, how you fit inside your picture, is important to ensure you are creating a strong video presence. Make sure you have three fingers of space between the top of your head and the top of the screen, and on each side of you.
5. To Make Eye Contact, Look at the Camera, Not the Screen
There is nothing more important in a meeting than eye contact, and most of us are doing this incorrectly. Your video camera should be level with your eyes, and you should look into the camera lens when you are speaking. The camera is the conduit to your conversation, so if you want to speak with impact, it is critical that you learn to make virtual “eye contact” close to how it would be in person.
Looking into the camera lens as we speak goes against every natural impulse that we have. We think the right thing to do is to look at our attendees, but looking at their picture on the screen means you’re not making eye contact. When you’re speaking in a virtual meeting, it’s not about you, it’s about how you’re making people on the other side feel. This is why looking into the camera when you speak is so important.
6. Be MORE Human
When everyone worked remotely last year, most of us for the first time, we lost a lot of humanity in our meetings. Leaders would jump right into an agenda, if there was one. There was no opportunity for casual, small talk, which is a critical element in building strong relationships and culture. From a business, leadership and individual perspective, establishing connection with people is the most critical element of creating strong business results. Leaders need to inject more humanity into their meetings. Try to simulate the casual conversations you have face-to-face in the office.
7. Leverage 5 Minute One-on-One’s
Many leaders often feel like they don’t have time to meet with each person one-on-one on a regular basis, especially if their teams are larger. If this is the case, consider shorter, more frequent one-on-one meetings. If you think you don’t have time for one-on-one’s, consider the consequence of diminished team cohesion and culture without them. Conducting one-one’s must be a priority. The best meetings are shorter, more purposeful, and have the right people in the room. Schedule these small, short meetings or open office hours for small group or one-on-one conversations.
About Karin Reed
Karin M. Reed is the CEO and Chief Confidence Creator of Speaker Dynamics, a corporate communications training firm, featured in Forbes. While speaking through a webcam might be new to much of the world, Karin has been teaching business professionals how to be effective on camera communicators for nearly a decade, translating her experience as an Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist and on-camera spokesperson into a methodology based upon the MVPs of On-Camera Success™. She has been quoted as a thought leader by various prestigious publications, including Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, Investors Business Daily and Tech Republic.
Her most recent book, Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work, written with meeting scientist, Dr. Joseph Allen, was adopted in the curriculum of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford. Karin was featured by McKinsey & Co in their “Author Talks” series, showcasing the latest best-selling business books.
Her first book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, was a #1 Hot New Release in Business Communications on Amazon in 2017.
For the best 7 virtual meeting tips, download and listen to the full episode:
Online Courses for Leaders Leading a Team From Anywhere:
Check out these online courses for remote leaders from the Team Anywhere Team.