Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

How to have Effective Online Meetings

Online Meetings

By Elaine Jacques

In this new era of online meetings, webinars, and video calls, it is easy to feel disconnected.  So while meeting online will never be the same as meeting in-person, until we can meet in-person again; here are a few tips to make your online meetings more effective and connective.

online meetings
Elaine Jacques

Power pose for 2 minutes prior to the start of your online meetings

  • Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk: “Your body language may shape who you are” if you aren’t familiar with the neuroscience behind power posing
  • Appropriate body language will make you will feel more confident
  • You will be perceived as more confident and competent by your audience

Smile to your eyes

  • When you smile, make sure it comes from within and reaches your eyes
  • If you only smile with your mouth, it is perceived as fake and you will lose the connectedness that a real smile can create


Position your camera at your eye level

  • If your camera is below your eye level, you will be perceived as dictatorial, looking down on your audience, dismissive
  • If your camera is above your eye level, you will be perceived as subordinate, less confident
  • Having your camera at your eye level will create a sense of teamwork, a willingness to work together


Don’t cover your face or mouth

  • Watch where the name block is compared to where your face is on screen
  • Keep your hands away from your face and mouth
  • In fact, covering your face or mouth creates the perception that you are hiding something, or are untrustworthy


Watch your distance!

  • Sit a culturally-appropriate distance from your camera to create the same view of you that you would be if you were in-person with your audience
  • Sitting too close to your camera will be uncomfortable for your audience as they will feel you are inside their personal space
  • Sitting too far from your camera will cause you to be perceived as being distant, disinterested, uninvolved


Keep gestures visible on the screen

  • Gesturing out of the viewable area on-screen creates the sense of being left out for your audience, which breaks the connectivity to you and your message


Maintain an open body posture

  • Watch your hands. Don’t overuse them. Also, avoid crossing your arms in front of your body.
  • Having visible barriers between you and your audience will break the connection between you
  • Can create the perception that you are not willing to work with them, not a team player, disinterested, disrespectful
  • Sit upright with shoulders back
  • In short, good posture helps you to be perceived as more confident
  • Having upright, open body posture helps to create the perception that you are confident, calm, and open to teamwork and collaboration


Where are you looking?

  • Look directly at your camera while YOU are talking
  • This helps your audience feel seen, respected, acknowledged, involved
  • This creates the perception of eye contact with your audience which helps build the sense of connection between you


Be willing to be a little bit vulnerable

  • As a leader, it can be very helpful for your team for you to acknowledge the current environment of stress, uncertainty, fear, anxiety
  • A simple statement and question at the beginning of your meeting can help to create the sense that you all are a team and are going through this together: “I know I’m getting tired of being at home all the time!  How’s everyone else doing?” Or “My kids are driving me crazy!  How’s everyone else doing?”


Be a good listener!

  • Listen first to understand, not just to respond
  • Aim to speak last
  • Turn off all distractions
  • Looking away from your camera/screen breaks the connection with your audience unless it is obvious you are thinking about your answer to a question
  • Paraphrase, some of what you think you heard someone say, to ensure you understood their meaning/intention before you respond
  • Remember the old golden words: “A person two ears and one mouth.” So, use them proportionately
  • Above all, be fully present and give others the respect of your time and attention when they are talking


The author, Elaine Jacques, is a US-based leadership presence and leadership development coach. 

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