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How to Elevate Your Presence in a Virtual Meeting

By | Nicholas Rubright

Remember when virtual meetings were a novelty, not an everyday occurrence? When it was new and fun to have a business meeting in your slippers. Or how we’d chuckle when someone’s kid would run across the background.

Fast forward to today, and that’s old news. We’ve been around the block a time or two.

It means we’ve gotten comfortable with the idea of having virtual meetings for just about everything, business or otherwise. But that doesn’t mean we’re all experts at creating a meaningful presence in our meetings.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you get noticed—in a good way—during your next virtual meeting.

First, turn your camera on.

If you aren’t going to turn your camera on, you can stop reading this article right now. There is no way that people will remember you and what you have to say, if they can’t see you.

Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 rule resulted from studies that showed that nonverbal cues accounted for 55% of a face-to-face interaction. That means that elevating your presence in a meeting is more about being seen, than by what you actually say.

When you turn your video on, your meeting participants can see you. They can read your facial expressions and they can get to know you on a more personal level. This helps drive better relationships, keep participants engaged, and gives you the opportunity to leave a memorable impression in your meetings.

Which leads to my next point…

Maintain eye contact.

When you are in person having a conversation, there is a natural level of eye contact that occurs. That signals to the other people that you are listening and paying attention to the discussion at hand.

In a virtual meeting, this rule still holds. Maintaining eye contact keeps you actively engaged and therefore, more present. But we know eye contact can be tricky over a video call. As a tip, remember to look at the camera, instead of the screen, when speaking. This will create the illusion to participants on the other side of the screen that you are making eye contact with them.

By being part of the action, you’ll inevitably be more likely to be remembered. And probably more than anything, will quickly establish rapport and trust.

Get rid of distractions

In a virtual meeting, it is far too easy to multi-task. Your email notification pops up, you get an instant message from a colleague, or your cell phone rings, and you divert your attention away from the meeting. We’ve all done it before, but if you want to elevate your presence, this needs to stop.

When people notice this type of behavior in a meeting, they’ll start to exclude you from the conversation, because clearly you aren’t listening. You fade into the background and go from an active participant to a casual bystander, as easy as that. Not only that, but it’s just plain rude and people notice it.

Neuroscientist, Dr. Don Vaughn, reported that the average person receives as many as 4,000 messages per day. With this many messages, becoming distracted is inevitable.  The easiest way to stay focused, is to remove these distractions before the meeting. Put your cell phone away (I mean, literally, go put it in another room), turn off desktop notifications, clear the clutter from your desk, and just focus. You’ll be sure to elevate your presence in any meeting, and what’s more, you’ll also make every meeting much more productive to boot.

Practice good posture

Research from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University discovered that “posture expansiveness,” (which essentially means positioning yourself in a way that opens up the body and takes up space), activated a sense of power that produced behavioral changes in a subject independent of their actual rank or role in an organization. In other words, your posture matters more than your actual rank does in being perceived as powerful. This kind of perception can make you become more influential, more noticeable, and more memorable.

So next time you’re in a meeting, sit tall and proud. You’ll feel more confident and you’ll become that much more powerful. Just don’t let it go to your head.

Have a voice

As with any conversation, you need to speak up to be included.

But as Harvard Business Review pointed out, virtual meetings are particularly poised to promote conversation among the extroverts of the group – those that think by talking, and are comfortable speaking in large groups.

And if you’re leading the meeting, make sure you stick to your agenda, and ensure that all participants are given time to speak and provide feedback. and encouraging discussion. You can do this by allotting each participant a certain amount of time to speak or give feedback. And check after the call if every member felt they had enough time to get their point across. Based on feedback, adjust your video conference calls going forward.

As the way we work continues to evolve, the way we meet will follow in step. Global Workplace Analytics forecasted that between 25% and 30% of the workforce could be remote multiple days per week by the end of 2021. Subsequently, video conference calls aren’t going anywhere. They will likely dominate the way workers meet going forward, so making sure you are seen and heard on screens will be an important skill to add to your tool belt in this new way of working.



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