Receive tips for managing the logistics and your appearance in video conference calls to help you and your team get the most out of your virtual meetings.
- If you've noticed people have trouble paying attention in face-to-face meetings, you'll find it even more challenging in virtual meetings. When you think about the important information you need to convey during these meetings, it's scary to think about what gets lost in cyberspace. The good news is, there are things you can do to improve communication in your virtual team meetings. In addition to sharing the meetings agenda in advance, consider what, if any, visuals may help your participants understand the material being discussed.
If you're leading the meeting, try to initiate the call early. This will give you a chance to confirm any visuals you're using are loading properly and that all your technology is working as it should. You can use this time to check to see how you appear on camera before the meeting starts. Is the background neat and tidy, or cluttered? Everything the camera projects will influence what your teammates see. That's why it's very important to think about how you will project to your audience, the participants in the meeting. On video calls, the audience must rely on your facial expressions and your eyes for clues, much more than they do in person.
Neutral expressions are read as negative, and even a slight frown is viewed as very negative, or disapproval. Eye contact in virtual communication matters just as much if not more, than when you're having a face-to-face discussion. When you're looking at the person who's speaking, your eyes won't connect with theirs. Similarly, if you look at their faces when you're speaking, perhaps to read their facial expressions or body language, you're not looking them in the eye. As awkward as it seems, try to look at the camera as much as possible, both when you're speaking and especially when you're listening.
If you're struggling with eye contact or warmth, try putting something just behind the camera that you can see when you're looking directly at it. A photo of a loved one, a stuffed animal, or anything else that you have warm feelings about will work. Having a pleasant memory within your peripheral vision will help you to project warmth. Your energy level will set the tone of enthusiasm and attention for the entire group. If you can adjust your technology to accommodate it, stand up when you're speaking.
It will help you to convey more interest and passion in whatever you're talking about. Scheduling virtual meetings can present challenges when your teammates are not in the same time zone. Try to consider everyone's needs when identifying your meeting times. If you're on the East Coast, a 9:00 a.m. meeting might be challenging for your teammate in California where it's 6:00 a.m. If your team is even more spread out, there may not be times you can meet that will be during the business day for everyone in the meeting. Keep that in mind when scheduling and try to make sure you show some flexibility yourself.
If possible, alternate meeting times so that if your colleagues in China join a meeting at 11:00 p.m. their time, the next meeting is at 11:00 p.m. in your time zone. Keeping these details in mind will help you communicate more effectively with your teams in virtual meetings.
- Defining roles and commitments
- Managing conflict
- Establishing and maintaining trust
- Creating a shared vision and focusing on objectives
- Providing feedback
- Structuring time for reflection
- Holding teammates accountable
- Communicating in face-to-face and virtual meetings
- Communicating across job functions and across cultures