With Covid-19 the “old days” are bygones, and we are all doing business socially distanced. The good news however, with technology, we can “see” each other.
Once a meeting time is agreed upon via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype or through a different on-line meeting medium….
According to the University of Southern Mississippi – “consider investing in headphones” – this prevents echoes and interrupted audio from your immediate surroundings and provides clearer quality to your audience.
In addition, they suggest “consider the light source”. We all look better in good light that is fact. With the camera facing you – if you can sit facing a window or with a lamp in front of you will look your best. If the light shines from behind, you will be in a shadow and your face will be difficult for others in your conversation to see you.
Getting the angle just right - Most providers have a “preview” mode for sound quality and a visual check before entering the meeting. Take that moment to confirm the angle is accurate. This is a check to confirm the camera is not aimed looking up your nose or focused on your forehead.
Posture - No slouching! Sitting tall is perceived as confident. Is your chair comfortable? Does it have lumbar/back support? I suggest investing less than $25 and obtaining a lumbar support cushion that fastens to your chair if you find that your back aches during the day. It eliminates the pressure from your lower back when sitting for long periods of time.
I recently purchased a lumbar support cushion and I do not slouch if I am sitting back with my feet on the ground or on my foot rest.
Eye Contact – look at the camera not the monitor picture which for many appears above/higher than the laptop or computer camera… a trick shared with me, that I use, is tape a photo of a loved one above and slightly right of your camera... Camera eye contact takes -Practice, Practice, Practice!
Dress for the meeting - No one will know if you are wearing sneakers, but they will know if you are wearing a t-shirt or if your hair is disheveled – these two examples can be viewed as a lack of care towards the business to discuss at hand. If you have a company logo'd shirt wear it!
Using the visual features of the medium during your call – Microsoft Teams and Zoom for example have the options to change your background or blur it out. In my opinion, please do not use this feature… When you move your head, hands, shift your position on a chair, the picture “cracks” the look becomes shoddy and is a visual distraction. Using a background such as the beach, space, mountain view – each by itself can create a distraction to the conversation and may reduce eye contact between the parties. It can help create an icebreaker to see what is in the world behind the person you are speaking with.
I recently had a first call with a vendor and he immediately noticed in a plant behind me, sticking out of the dirt is a small Adelphi University pennant.
Your Photograph – professional photos are cheap to acquire and worth the investment. Looking at someone’s initials because they are camera shy or perhaps, do not have camera access is a hinderance to creating a connecting. Presenting with a Photo should be the option taken when “live” is not possible. When we know what the face to the voice looks like we are a step closer to being able to connect with the other party in our conversation.
For years I had a client which I never met in person. I knew Mike’s voice from the hello without looking at the caller ID. Mike has a deep Southern Texas twang; his use of the English language is crisp coupled with a dry sense of humor. In my mind I established he was over 6” tall, had a mustache, a full head of hair, he dressed in a collared shirt with a tie. First Skype meeting, I quickly discovered Mike is clean shaven, bald and no matter the weather outside he wears a polo shirt! He told me from my voice he thought I was a redhead with curly hair!
Recording/taping the call via the features of the medium – ALWAYS TELL THE OTHER PARTY! With Microsoft Teams and Zoom there is an itty-bitty red light that flashes to indicate recording but not all people would notice it… I bring this up, like having your photo taken, you want your best look (no wrinkled shirt, no hunched shoulders) or better yet, maybe you want to cease showing your live self and put your stock photo on the screen.
Your behind the scenes environment - What others do not see is just as important to creating the Virtual Meeting Atmosphere...
- Is the room temperature comfortable?
- Is your chair comfortable?
- Is there clutter in your view behind the monitor or on the wall?
- What is the smell of the room/area you are working in? (if your dog needs a bath and is under the desk at your feet - the smell of the room may not be so pleasant!)
- Do you have a beverage of choice within reach? (It appears to be acceptable to drink from a mug during a virtual meeting - If you do, I suggest a company mug... keep the brand you represent visible.)
March will be a year since the work from home business community began, we all accept the less than professional office “look,” but we all have the tools to create the professional business meeting.
The “Corcentric Virtual Lunch Bunch” meets the last Friday of each month at noon …virtually of course. Would you like to join us? Our next meeting is February 26th at noon.
If you would like to join or wish additional information, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) – all are welcome to attend and/or be a guest speaker on a topic related to working remotely.