Online meetings are part of everyday life and although people have been quite forgiving as we’ve learned to navigate this different way of meeting together, there are still those who show up for these meetings in a way they won’t show up for in-person meetings.
Yes, there are times that there are things out of our control, especially if we do these meetings from home. Kids being unwell and needing cuddles, noise from the neighbourhood, pets barking in the background, or less than ideal spaces for online meetings. We do, however, have many things we control about how we approach and appear during online meetings.
Online meetings are more taxing on the brain, in that there are more components to take into account. Our brains need to work harder to focus and take note of all the different elements presented online. On top of that, we have fewer visual cues to observe and the energy of online meetings is quite different to the energy present between people when they are face-to-face.
Because of this, it is our responsibility to show up as well as we can and make it as easy as possible for the other person to engage with us!
So how do we do this?
The short answer is by showing up well prepared, well presented, and professionally.
Show up like you would show up for an in-person meeting.
Even when we don’t talk, we communicate a great deal, therefore, the WAY you show up, speaks volumes in itself.
Before the meeting
Preparation is key, so be prepared in these areas:
Ask yourself these questions:
how do I want to present myself?
what value do I want to add to this interaction?
what would I like to gain from this?
Decide before the time what you are going to wear.
Dress appropriately to the aim of the meeting and make sure it is comfortable so that you don’t fidget. It is an online meeting, but dress in a way you would have as if it were an in-person meeting, in other words, dress from top to toe!
Check your appearance before the time so that you don’t look at yourself and preen during the meeting.
Be on time.
Make sure the space you sit in is well lit.
Have an uncluttered background.
If possible, make sure you are in a room that has a door
Do an audio & video check before your meeting starts.
If you have slides or documents, have them ready.
Declutter your desktop, especially if you are going to share your screen.
Attach your power cable to your device!
During the meeting
Hack #1 - Show up well
Make a good first impression
Online first impressions can take as little as 1 second! Because it happens so quickly, it is almost always non-verbal. It’s normal to be nervous, but showing up with confidence will set the impression of competence, trustworthiness and likeability. If you are nervous, stand in a super-hero pose for a few minutes before the start of the meeting. When you look confident, you feel more confident and in turn, you come across as more confident.
Show your hands
Our hands are our trust indicators and our brains relax more if we can see someone else’s hands. Give a nice wave when you go online (this can take the place of a good handshake).
Smile and greet those who join (yes, even if you're not hosting)
A real smile shows confidence and friendliness. Say something like ‘Hi, it’s nice to be here.’
This is difficult online, but you can create the impression of direct eye contact by looking straight at the camera. Don’t forget to also look at the images on the screen to look at facial expressions and body language. Make eye contact via the camera as often as you would normally make eye contact with someone during in-person meetings.
Hack #2 - Be congruent
If I tell you my previous job was great, but I present like the picture below, you are going to be confused and I’m going to lose credibility.
When we hear one thing and see something different, our brains go on alert and we become suspicious and distrusting. Make sure people see and hear the same message.
Hack #3 - Pay attention
I’ve been in meetings where people have:
gotten up to make coffee without even excusing themselves
swivelled on a chair throughout the entire meeting
clicked their pen close to the microphone
checked and replied to emails
constantly checking their own image on their video
These are all disrespectful to the others in the meeting. If you are going to engage in these behaviours, it is best not to show up to the meeting at all.
After the meeting
Follow up - if you hosted the meeting, it is a good idea to follow up with the minutes via email. If it was a job interview, send a 'thank-you' email.
Follow through - Take the action steps you agreed to during the meeting
Be well prepared
Show up well
I would love to know what other ways you have to prepare well for online meetings.