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How to Improve Your Presence During Virtual Meetings

Avatar of Karen Kimonye Karen Kimonye | Feb 8, 2021
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Having effective virtual meetings is critical for success when collaborating remotely with your team. However, it can be advantageous to know how to stand out and make your presence in a virtual meeting more impactful. This can be difficult when everyone occupies a small square on the screen, but you can improve your presence with a few of these strategies.

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, 5.3% of Americans were working from home. And with the pandemic turning more office workers into work from home workers, virtual meetings are becoming a routine for a wide range of business purposes, from brainstorming sessions to staff meetings.

However, communication tactics that work well among colleagues in a conference room don’t translate seamlessly on a computer screen. According to organizational behavior experts, it’s essential to view virtual meetings in a different context, not simply an in-person meeting or class on a screen.

Improving your presence during Zoom, Skype, and similar virtual meetings not only requires engaging in video conference-friendly tactics but also changing your perception about the medium. To elevate your presence and confidence during virtual meetings; consider these nine tactics:

1.  Stand During Virtual Meetings

Standing during virtual meetings

Standing up opens your diaphragm, allowing more air into your lungs. Also, it helps you sound more confident when speaking. When standing you can move around and use more gestures without the fear of hitting your desk. This is very helpful, especially if you’re a meeting facilitator or a teacher trying to command attention. Further, more oxygen helps you to feel less fatigued and stressed.

2.  Focus on Your Camera and Not Your Colleagues

Direct eye contact is a fundamental way to elevate your point. However, during a virtual meeting, this means looking at your camera and not at the smiling faces of your colleagues. Speaking into a black circle might feel unnatural or uncomfortable—as humans, we’re trained to look at people we’re talking to—but politicians and entertainers have been doing this successfully for decades.

It’s challenging to look at your camera throughout the meeting, especially when your colleagues or students are talking, however, it’s important to realize that you increase the impact of your points when you look straight into the dot.

When you speak, even for brief moments, practice looking into your camera during virtual meetings. The more you do this, the more comfortable you’ll become with it.

3.  Use a Strong Voice

Strong voice

Maintain a louder-than-usual voice throughout the meeting. Apart from being audible, strong voices convey authority, credibility, and confidence. Even though you may be using an internal or external microphone, don’t be tempted to speak at conversational volume, maintain a strong voice as if you’re in a large conference room.

Using a powerful voice prevents you from mumbling and from speaking too quickly because of the amount of breath needed.

4.  Keep Your Background Tidy!

Tidy background

Fun backgrounds help break up the monotony of back-to-back meetings. However, use them appropriately. Virtual meetings are easy to get distracted in. According to one survey, over 50% of workers do other things during virtual meetings.

Thus, if you’re contributing to the conversation, make sure there are no background noises or distractions. If you opt not to use a background for your video meeting, make sure your workspace is organized and free of distracting things or people.

Also, make sure you have as much natural light as possible shining towards your face, not behind you. This way your audience will see your facial expressions and you’ll connect with your audience easily. Avoid lamps/bulbs in your visible background because they’ll create a glare on the audience’s screen and it’ll be hard to see you. Try different angles and see what works best.

5.  Mount Your Technology

Mount technology

Using a monitor arm can help you maintain better posture throughout the day. Also, it can help you reduce any aches and pains. A monitor arm promotes effective screen and webcam placement, which can make it easier to focus on your camera lens.

A monitor arm also raises your display to an ergonomic height, which keeps you looking ahead rather than down. Combining a monitor arm with an external mouse and keyboard can give you an ergonomic boost that can keep you refreshed throughout the workday.

6.  Frame Yourself Wisely

Frame wisely

Proximity plays a crucial role in how audiences perceive you as a communicator. If you’re farther away or obscured, the less engaging you’ll be. In a virtual meeting, your head and the top of your shoulders should dominate your screen.

If you sit too close to the screen, this might cut off your head. And if your entire torso is in view, this means you’re too close to the screen. And if only just half of your head is in sight, please adjust your camera!

7.  Mute Your Notifications

Mute notifications

Mute your desktop notifications before jumping into a video conference. You may think all the dings and pings make you look important; however, it’s disrespectful to other people in the virtual meeting. Make others feel important by making sure they have your full attention.

Also, it’s essential to know that anything you say in the chat will be visible in the final transcript. Thus, make sure your private messages are something you’re comfortable with your boss seeing.

8.  Get Your Mindset Right

Get your mindset right

Executive presence is more than just your visual look and body language. Essentially, it’s more about your mentality. And nothing is more detracting from projecting an air of confidence than undermining yourself.

Avoid using language like, “I’m sorry, I’m completely off base here.” Tentative language might be appropriate during a brainstorming session, for instance, but it’s not appropriate when you’re trying to be perceived as an expert.

9.  Avoid Distractions

Avoid distraction

Virtual meetings come with pitfalls, such as unnecessary digital distractions and background noise, pets and children disturbances, or inadvertently talking while you’re on mute. If you want to appear professional, you must get a hang of your virtual and physical environments.

The first and most crucial rule is to stay on mute whenever you aren’t contributing. This filters out ambient noises, such as your breathing, the sounds from keyboard tapping, the ticking of the wall clock, or noises from other working appliances in the house.

Always know when to mute and unmute before talking. And if you think your activities may distract others in the meeting, turn off the camera. Distracting activities might include eating, chewing, or moving around.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’ve been taking part in a video conference for years or just started this year, it’s essential to realize that a virtual meeting isn’t just a meeting over Zoom or Skype. It’s a whole new collaborative experience, which requires you to adapt your habits, tactics, and perspective to make it work effectively for you.

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WRITTEN BYKaren Kimonye

I'm a freelance writer who specializes in creating blog posts, and articles that build trust and compel readers to take the desired action.

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