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.
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.