Whenever a new social medium arises, there is always a period of confusion. Social norms have yet to be adequately established. The unspoken rules and regulations are in the process of dissemination. Typically, the adoption of the new technology goes hand in hand with the evolution of such norms. This time is different.
The rapid adoption of Zoom meetings has meant many are still confused about how they should act. Therefore, it is the place of leaders to help establish the rules. Examining the trending norms, we’ve compiled the dos and don’ts for leaders to consider. Follow these areas, and you’ll always display a professional and attentive demeanour. You’ll also do your part in establishing standard and sensible communication rules.
Imagine rolling up to work in a t-shirt and jeans. Or, even worse, your pyjamas with a bedhead to match. Your boss would take one look at you, and send you home. Your team would be astounded, jaws ajar. Yet, people think nothing of logging into calls from their bed: unwashed and unkempt.
Such behaviour is grossly unprofessional. Before attending a meeting, make sure you are washed and dressed. You don’t have to put on a three-piece suit or extravagant blouse. Nor does your hair need to be coiffured to perfection, or your makeup echo the works of Michelangelo. Instead, a smart and presentable appearance, perhaps a sweater or shirt, will be suitable.
Doing so will establish the tone for the meeting. You’re there for business, not pleasure.
Dominate the limelight
If you’re speaking continuously for longer than a minute or two, you’re talking too much. There are obvious exceptions, for instance, when giving a presentation. However, even then, audience participation is a useful tool.
Remember this simple rule: speak when you have something to say. Convey your point in as few words as possible, and speak slowly and clearly. Firstly, it indicates confidence and knowledge. We’ve all heard people waffle on about nothing. More often than not, they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s said, ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’, but wisdom is too.
Secondly, dominating the limelight with long, meandering answers comes across as selfish. Meetings are about collaboration. They’re a dialogue, not a monologue. If you’re not listening, you’re not engaged in a conversation. Only by hearing others can new ideas flourish.
Position the camera poorly
Image matters. We’ve already established the importance of dress and hygiene. But with a virtual meeting, there’s another dimension: the camera. How and where you position the camera, is vitally important. First, you want it to be at eye-level. If positioned below your face, it will stretch you out. Plus, it gives everyone a prime view up your nose: not very professional. Instead, use books (or invest in a laptop stand) to prop up the laptop. When speaking, look directly into the camera. At first, it will feel odd. However, it will boost your appearance of confidence and engagement with the audience.
Next, consider the lighting. Casting yourself in a gloomy shadow can ruin a call. It also gives an impression of untrustworthiness. What have you got to hide? It is better to find a place with ample natural light. You want to be facing the light, or adjacent to it. Avoid having the light behind you, as you will appear in silhouette.
Overbearing background noise can ruin a meeting. People struggle to hear what’s going on. Confusion occurs; the conversation becomes derailed. Similarly, lurid wallpaper, home décor, or the books on your shelves, can lead your audience to become more interested in your home than your presentation.
Avoiding these distractions is simple. Ask people living with you to keep the noise down for the duration of the meeting. Shut windows and keep out any kids or pets (if possible). To hide your backdrop choose a zoom virtual background video, for the ultimate privacy tool. Amazingly, you can replace your background with one of the hundreds available. Choose from offices, boardrooms or stunning natural photos and videos.
Worse than being the cause of distraction is being distracted. It isn’t polite, and it is certainly not the sign of a leader. People put a great deal of effort into their presentations. When they speak, they expect to be heard. In real life, most people wouldn’t dream of browsing their phone or checking their emails. They wouldn’t engage in side conversations, nor multitask. Why should a virtual meeting be any different?
Before the meeting, mute your phone. Close all other windows, and consider turning off computer notifications. Pay attention and listen to your colleague. The meeting wasn’t called for the sake of it. There are jobs to be completed, goals to be achieved. By giving the meeting your undivided attention, you’ll also get more out of the experience. So, don’t switch off; switch on.