Many people say that webinars and conference calls are no substitute for meetings and live presentations. In some respects, we agree – the power of face to face interactions is unquestionable. Part of the reason for this, however, is at least in part because they are executed so badly!
We have developed a 1 hour course on Udemy that will give you the skills to develop your online presence. Alongside, you can buy all the equipment you will need to look, sound and feel more professional!
The nature of work has shifted significantly as a result of the pandemic and the enforced home working that has been created.
Post pandemic, many more meetings and presentation will remain online as businesses capitalise on the greater efficiencies these formats can offer. Because online meetings and presentations have become the new normal, people’s expectations have risen. It’s no longer good enough to be “winging it”.
We have created a short, 1 hour course to learn and build on the skills that you already have, and to make online meetings as productive as face to face ones. It’s structured to be highly practical so you can apply the skills and techniques immediately, and quickly look and sound more professional and have greater impact in all virtual forums. You can see a preview of the course here:
After completing the course, you will have an easy-to-understand toolkit to use for all your future online meetings and presentations. If you want a more in depth coaching session, please see our other courses here.
There are a lot of different platforms out there (e.g. Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Google Meet etc) and while many have great and similar functionality, such as the ability to have different views of participants (e.g. gallery view, speaker view), change backgrounds, mute / turn up volume, do screen sharing and switch presenters, run polls), they all work a bit differently and you need to proactively master the functionality of the platform you use most. Don’t fumble and stumble through your meetings. Invest some time to get to mastery.
Observe Murphy’s law; what can go wrong with technology, will go wrong, so always have a back-up – e.g. have a phone option / email presentations to participants in case the screen sharing fails.
- Before the meeting / presentation, log in at least 5 minutes before the start time check your tech. Don’t be complacent and don’t wing it
- All platforms provide lots of on demand training videos, so make good use of them.
- Get the basics right; a decent camera and microphone is a good start.
A little basic etiquette can go a long way to making everyone feel comfortable and more likely to engage.
- Introductions. Even more important digitally than face to face, to ensure people know who’s on the call with you.
- As in real life, face to face scenarios, nobody likes feeling ignored. When you’re not speaking and others are, don’t have your head down looking at your phone. It’s simply rude.
- Don’t multi- task (like checking email) during the virtual meetings/ presentations. Even if it’s not video based, your keyboard clicking can be heard and if you’re on mute for long periods it suggests you’re not fully engaged.
- Finally, for your own benefit if you’re multitasking, you won’t take much in.
Voice is the big one!
Be honest; How many times have you sat through a deathly dull digital event with a monotone presenter droning on in a voice that should be bottled and marketed as a cure for insomnia?
On teleconferences and video calls, the vast majority of your message depends on your voice. You are missing most or all of the 50% of your message that is typically understood via body language.
You cannot talk “normally” and expect it to be effective. You have to work your voice much harder for it to sound clear and engaging to digital audiences. This involves much greater vocal emphasis on key words, more modulation and variation of pace, pitch and volume.
The issues here is that to many, this feels and sounds really unnatural, and we’re embarrassed in case it sounds weird to others, so we don’t do it. Result? We sound flat and dull instead and our audiences start doing emails or playing Candy Crush. It is the “Toppest” of top tips; work your voice!
To be able to do that also requires you to have a good microphone. Most laptops’ built in microphones are not very good. So, if you sit back at all from the screen you can’t be heard well or clearly. Most are also very narrowly directional, only picking up sound well from directly in front of the laptop. What that means is that if you move your head to either side, you lose your voice and other participants either can’t hear you or hear a weird phasing in and out sound!
Lighting is critical. If you cannot be seen clearly, you become a disembodied voice and you are less likely to be listened to. Talking to a shadowy silhouette is rarely a good experience for either side of the conversation.
- Light is hard to manage. Room lighting and / or light from a window is rarely enough and is very variable.
- You need a light source that is positioned behind your PC/ laptop to light your face. Ideally it should be adjustable both in terms of angle and light intensity so you can be clearly visible on bright days and dark afternoons but not washed out by too bright a light.
- Avoid a window as a backdrop. Backlighting can make it hard to see your face. It can also be distracting as outside lighting changes.
- Ensure you use video where possible (and insist other participants do too!) as eye contact (even though digital is less effective than face to face) is much more engaging and it’s less possible for the audience to multitask!
Just because you can’t see what’s behind, doesn’t mean others can’t!
- Avoid distracting backgrounds and keep a neutral background.
People will not concentrate on you if they are distracted by your dirty laundry pile in the background or wondering about your taste in wall art.
- A green screen will cover up any of the untidy or distracting elements in your house, without having to spring clean each time you have a meeting! It enables you to use virtual backgrounds as well. It makes them sharp and crisp and you do not disappear into ghostly images every time you move.
- Do not put your laptop on your knees it will wobble and make your audience feel seasick.
- Position your PC / Laptop where you can look straight at the webcam, otherwise you risk looking shifty, as if you are avoiding eye contact.
- Watch what you wear: Clothes are good! Since lockdown it has been known for people to turn up without a shirt on at a meeting! You still need to look professional, (even if you are wearing shorts or pyjamas below your desk!) Choose your clothes consciously, some colours and patterns (especially checks and stripes) don’t work well digitally and can visually oscillate and be very distracting.