FaceTime, Zoom and other video apps have become the ‘norm’ for staying connected with our family and friends during the unexpected Covid quarantine. Even the ‘Old Dogs’ have learned new tricks to keep in touch. Birthday Parties, Happy Hours, and even Family Dinners have been shared so that we can still feel connected to the people we love.
With the spike in Virtual Meetings over the last few months, businesses have been forced into a sudden paradigm shift in their connectivity as well.
While employers focus on training their workforce to utilize the digital tools, little, if any, guidance has been provided about the visual presence for their employees during the meetings.
Communication skills that work well in a conference room in-person may not translate seamlessly to the ‘Brady Bunch’ – style quadrants on a computer screen.
Tips for Successful Virtual Engagement
Eliminate Distractions – Find a quiet place in your home or office for your meetings. This is an easier task at the office, but Work-from-Home employees may struggle with finding a space that suitable for a professional meeting. You can create workspace for your Work-from-Home employees that will eliminate visual distractions in the background by providing them with a graphic back wall.
The wall creates a workspace and allows you, the employer, to manage the visual content of the meeting. Custom design the graphics to include the company brand.
Look at the Lens, not the people on the screen –
Our natural instinct is to look people in the eye when we’re having a conversation. Our training to do so doesn’t work in virtual meetings at all and it’s distracting to the other people in the meeting. It’s a new trick that requires a lot of practice to get it right. The webcam is where the recipient’s eyes are not on the screen.
Practice, practice, practice with your virtual meeting team until they get it right. It’s not easy.
Speak with a strong voice –
They don’t need to yell or over-enunciate but depending on where the microphone is, it may be difficult to be understood. We’ve experienced how distracting it is over the last few months while watching television programs where virtual interviews go wrong because of poor sound quality.
Once again, practice with your virtual meeting employees while they are in their workspace, using their computer so you can provide valuable feedback.
Put your phone away –
You don’t need it! Even if your phone is in silent mode, pop up notifications for texts or emails will distract you for a moment. Recommend that they put the phone in silent mode and leave it in the other room.
Our phones follow us everywhere but we know better than to take it into an in-person meeting with us. Do the same during virtual meetings.
Dress appropriately, at least from the waist up –
One of the advantages of working from home is that you can dress very casually. It may be obvious to dress appropriately but it should certainly be included on your list of recommendations during your virtual meeting training.
If they do dress for the meeting from the waist up only. Remind them not to reach for something on the shelf above them to expose their Roy Rogers pajama bottoms, or worse. The video of that mishap might go viral on YouTube.
Our recommendations to Employers
You can still manage your Work-from Home employees during their virtual meetings to ensure that they are representing your organizational brand as intended by you. Consider implementing the following recommendations.
- Create some simple guidelines for them to follow.
- Provide equipment with quality microphone and webcam.
- Train for and practice with your team for virtual meetings.
- Manage your brand by providing them with background graphics, company apparel and even drinkware with your company logo to remind the people on the screen of who you are.