Virtually Speaking – Putting Your Best Self Forward for Virtual Meetings

By P Lorraine Wigglesworth  

 

Depending on when your community, company or country issued a stay-at-home policy, it could now be weeks or months now since you began working from home.

Not surprisingly, the way you ‘show up’ to the world has also changed. As work from home commenced and communication switched to virtual conversations, most people maintained a level of professionalism when showing up for online calls.

Fast forward a few weeks and corporate attire is now being replaced with T-Shirts, no shirts, shorts, sweatpants and even pyjamas. I had one meeting where a client refused to turn her camera on for an 11am meeting because she hadn’t even bothered to get dressed for the day.

People are clearly showing up differently for business meetings. Women are foregoing make-up and men are sporting beard stubble.

Adapting a laid back, less than groomed appearance may be acceptable when chatting with co-workers, maybe even the boss, yet it is less than ideal with speaking with a client or prospect. Before you even turn the camera on, you should be asking yourself, ‘what kind of impression am I making at this moment?

In the current environment when less meetings are taking place; it is vital that you put your best self forward during a virtual meeting. If it is important enough to have a meeting, it’s important enough for you to do it well.

To be at the top of your game, gentlemen you need more than a clean shaved face and ladies need more than a bit of lipstick to deliver a great virtual presentation.

Here are some ways for you to convey confidence and authority by making the most of teleconferencing technology, the right tools to deliver your presentation and a few key techniques to consider when you are in front of the camera.

Enhancing your Technology

You’ve already heard from other experts on the use of the different conferencing platforms available and the technical aspects of those services. I, on the other hand want to share ways to improve the delivery of your message with some basic tips that you can apply right now that will enhance your professionalism when presenting virtually.

Sound

Whether you are giving a large presentation or having a one-to-one it’s important that you get the sound right. Be aware of remote sounds such as air conditioners that might affect the quality of a presentation that is being recorded. Turn off all audible notifications on mobile phone.

Lighting

Avoid windows behind you. Close curtains behind you to avoid being backlit. Grab a desk top lamp and set this in front of your so that you are well lit. Soft natural light is best. If possible, sit with a window to your side.

You on Camera

The camera sees more than you know. If your visual setting on Zoom is set for 16×9 aspect ratio, it shows a wider area around you so avoid having a messy desktop are.

Know what is in the background. Take a screen shot of yourself on camera and then blow it up. This will allow you to see what is behind you, to the sides of you and even above you. Your camera picks up more than you know.

Tools of the Trade

Lighting

If the place where you are presenting from does not have natural light, consider investing in a clip-on light that fits on your laptop, iPad or smart phone, such as a Chatlight or Selfie Ring Light.

Smartphone Tripods

Not all presentations are conducted via your laptop or iPad. You may need to give a presentation via your smartphone. One of my coaching sessions takes place with a client in China via WeChat. Holding your phone for any length of time means a shaky hand and a distracting presentation. Instead, invest in a tripod stand which frees your hands and allows you to gesture naturally.

Laptop presentation remote clickers

With technology making it possible for us to conduct virtual presentations, there may be a time when you’ll be standing while giving a presentation. You’ll want to avoid moving back and forth within the shot just to advance the slides. It is well worth purchasing your own PowerPoint remote control clicker.

Teleconferencing Techniques

Let’s be honest, our family and friends don’t care what we look like or how we show up on a personal video call. Yet when it comes to business, we can’t be that cavalier.

Conference calls today need to convey professionalism and you’ll want to be at your best. Doing some of these things incorrectly could potentially make or break the success of a deal.

Practice in advance

Even today there are many individuals who are using these teleconferencing platforms for the first time. Know how to share your screen and make sure that people can hear you.

Practice the presentation. Just because you are not sitting in the same room as the customer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be putting in the same amount of effort. Having notes in front of you is not your ‘get out of jail free card’ that gives you a pass on having to practice your presentation.

The Camera Position

Prop up your computer onto a few books or a box if your camera is at the bottom of the computer. Nobody wants to be looking up your nose or look at the sagging skin under your chin.

It’s important that you are speaking directly into the camera and not looking at the screen, especially if you see yourself in a little box at the bottom of the screen.

Body Language& Gestures

Sit up straight. Put a pillow behind your back to support you to sit up straight. If you have a swivel chair, avoid the urge to swing left and right.

It’s natural that the hands want to move as you speak, so it’s okay for you to be animated. One word of caution and that is to make hand gestures close or parallel with your body. The camera magnifies the size of your hands and it can look weird to have your hands popping in and out of the frame.

Don’t eat on camera

Do your best to have a meal prior to your conference call. No one wants to watch you eating, not to mention people can’t understand you if you’ve got food in your mouth.

Every presentation counts and every presentation has high stakes. Make the most of your virtual presentation by putting your best self forward.

 

About

Pamela Wigglesworth, CSP, is an entrepreneurship and marketing consultant, international speaker and the author of three business books. A resident of Asia for over 20 years, she is the CEO of Experiential Hands-on Learning. She works with organizations across multiple industries to help them increase brand awareness, increase leads and ultimately increase sales.

To learn more about Pamela, visit the Experiential website at http://www.experiential.sg or email her at courses@experiential.sg

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