How do you communicate effectively when you’re connecting via Skype, Google Hangout or a GoToMeeting video conference? I participate in at least 10 meetings every month from behind my computer screen, and I have great news:
There is a magic key – a golden ticket, if you will – to succeeding in a virtual meeting. Hint: It’s the same golden ticket you would use in a face-to-face meeting.
There is no behavior more important.
This is true for when you are speaking and listening – there’s nothing worse than trying to talk to someone who is staring off into space or is very clearly trying to multitask.
So how can you use eye communication on a video or web conference? And how else can we make virtual meetings feel more, well, natural?
Here are some of our virtual meeting suggestions:
• Drag the box of you from the bottom to the top: We all have a built-in “What do I look like?” curiosity. Eye communication is ruined when you look down and show eyelids to the person on the other end of the video. Having the video at the top of your screen (near your computer’s camera) helps counter this effect.
• Position your computer so the camera is at eye level: Prop it up with a book underneath, lower your chair or do whatever you have to. You want to default to looking straight across instead of looking down.
• Narrate your shared screen: Skype, Google Hangouts and GoTo Meeting all allow you to share your screen. That’s a great place to start if you need to share visuals. Don’t stop there. Narrate through your charts and graphs. Tell us what the story is. Use your mouse to highlight exactly where we should be looking.
• If possible, adjust your background (and apparel) for maximum contrast: A white shirt with a white background makes your head seem, I don’t know, a little Casper-ish. Not the look we’re going for if we want to connect with our audience. As a rule, darker and solid colored shirts work best.
And, most importantly:
• Just because you’re relying on a machine doesn’t mean you have to become one: People tend to turn off their personality as soon as technology is involved. Don’t fall into that trap. Smile, laugh and react. Keep doing the same things you would otherwise do to stay likeable and authentic.
What are some of your tips for virtual meetings?