My hope is you are managing the uncertainties of these days as well as possible – and rest assured, no one is doing it perfectly! During this time I’ve had a chance to observe all kinds of video meetings and want to offer some overlooked elements you can share with your team:
How to stay connected with clients in the Zoom world – with no “before meeting visits” or “hallway/parking lot/coffee chats” you may feel you are losing touch. Teleconference calls are usually all business, with little opportunity for valuable chit chat. Because of that reality, I suggest you get there early or, if you’re hosting the meeting, let people know you’ll be starting the call five or ten minutes early so casual conversation can take place. Also, if you need to connect with one key person, ask if they can stay on the call for a few minutes after so a “face-to-face” talk can happen. Realize the “meeting after the meeting” can still occur with a little extra effort in the Zoom world.
Explain when you are using notes: eye contact is always important, but it is magnified in this form of communication. Your face literally fills the screen. If you are using notes or for some other reason you are looking away, explain that to your audience – especially when you are the main speaker. Few things are as distracting as a speaker who is looking anywhere but at the people they are talking to – even when they are doing it in a video meeting. Know where your camera is located and deliver your message to the camera anytime you are in a meeting with more that two or three people. If you need notes, simply explain what is happening so everyone is on the same page. They’ll understand.
What does your name slot say? Most video meeting platforms have some form of a name slot which stays on the screen at all times. I’ve seen executives show up with their eight-year-old’s name in the slot (easy to do) or with their email address or first initial and last name. Always check your name tag before “entering the room.” Maybe your first name and title works better for some meetings or simply first and last name for others. You can change it as often as you’d like. It’s there to help – make sure it’s working in your favor and not creating a distraction.
How do people see and hear you? If you are having trouble with the technology you may not even realize it and you never want to be that person who is creating a distraction on a call. Have someone else tape your video link so you can see how others see and hear you. Just ten seconds of video will tell you what you need to know or can help a more tech savvy person solve the problem.
In the end, it’s important for all of us to realize we’re “on” during these calls. People are making judgments about us and instead of getting to correct a misconception through a quick chat in the hallway, we need to do all we can to manage our video presence with care.
Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting, www.clear-comm.net, a Phoenix, AZ-based communications consulting firm which is helping people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.