Whether it’s Zoom, Webex, Teams or Slack, we’ve had to get used to seeing ourselves whilst trying to think and speak clearly. As a trainer at Working Voices, I’m often asked ‘how can I get my point across and be heard more effectively in virtual meetings?’ Here are my six top tips that you can start doing now to help:
Look at the camera
Just like when you’re talking face to face, it’s important to look at your audience, this means looking at the camera on the laptop when you speak, not down at the screen itself. This will need practice. If you’re relying on notes, you’ll have to look down – which doesn’t have the same impact. So ‘know’ what you want to get across and where possible dump the notes. Practise, saying it several times, pushing yourself to say the same message in different ways, whilst looking at the camera. This way it’ll come across in an authentic and assertive manner.
Have plenty of energy in your voice
Your energy level needs to go from 0 – 60 in the first second to grab attention. So prepare your opening sentence (practise as above), to make sure you say it without fumbling, saying ‘erm’ or other spacefillers like ‘just wanted to add’, etc. Keep your energy level high, as if you’re speaking to people in the room.
Keep an eye on your ‘relaxed face’.
Everyone else will be. Once people are tired of looking at their own face, they look at other people. So keep your expression present, energised and interested. I recommend a ‘half’ smile. That‘s not a constant huge grin, but is better than looking completely relaxed (if you’re too relaxed you can easily slip into looking disinterested or even miserable). So, something in between is perfect. If seeing your own face on the screen prevents you from listening to others properly, then hide it from view.
Be concise and clear with your message.
Virtual meetings are tiring. Keep what you want to say succinct and brief (see No. 1). Make it count. Indicate with a hand signal when you want to say something, breathe, smile (see No. 2), say what’s necessary, then stop. Say it well, keep it conversational and authentic, and don’t repeat yourself.
Maintain a strong posture throughout.
If you lean on the desk, your shoulders will hunch making you look less relaxed. Try to keep your back straight and head up. To help you, position the laptop so the camera is eye level. You may need to prop it up on books or lower your chair. This gives a good angle for your face, plus helps keep your posture upright and energised. If you can, even better, stand up. Position the laptop at eye level, you’ll get more passion and enthusiasm in your voice, especially if you’re trying to ‘sell’ an idea!
Watch recordings of yourself.
If you can record the meeting do, or record it on your phone. You are your own best critic, you’ll see things that could be improved.
These simple tips will help you look alert, interested and invaluable. Start putting them into practice on your very next virtual meeting. If you’re looking for expert advice, join my ‘Looking Professional Virtually’ course, get in touch to find out more.