Even if you were already working from home, you may not have had to use Zoom before. Why, suddenly, are you having to attend these calls… and on video, of all things?
Often, it’s because your clients used to all be in the office together, and you might have been the only one joining from another locale, so being on the phone or on Skype or Zoom without video worked just fine.
But now they’re all working from home… and often having their internal meetings on Zoom with video. So now when you join a client call, it seems normal to them for everyone to be on video, sharing files and smiles… including you.
So how do you now navigate this new video meeting world? And how can you leverage it yourself to build your business?
Follow these dos and don’ts of video conferencing, and you’ll be just fine.
Build relationships through video contact
Virtual meetings are replacing in-person gatherings and even the standard phone call. Quite simply, people are hungry for that face-to-face connection. Some may hold out for a return to normalcy, but more than likely, physical distancing is going to be part of our new routine.
Virtual meetings go beyond casual conversations. They take on an increasingly important role in how we function. With so many people working from a home office, there is a greater demand for people to engage through video chats.
Get familiar with video conferencing
Zoom receives a lot of attention, but other video conferencing options work too. Some of the top apps are Signal for encrypted video chats, the historic favorite Skype, a widely used WhatsApp with video-conferencing limited to four people, Microsoft Teams which integrates Office 365, and Google Chat (not to be confused with Google Hangouts).
Pricing varies, though many offer a free trial period. Use the one that works best for you and your clients.
Zoom is also in the news for possible security issues. The company is offering updates to offset problems with Zoom bombing where unsavory characters take over meetings as well as ‘Zoom’ phishing. Simple steps can protect your virtual meeting.
Follow the security protocols for any app chosen:
- Confirm the domain is legitimate.
- Provide a Meeting ID to desired participants.
- Create a password to control meeting attendance.
- If possible, use two-step verification to protect all your accounts from hacking.
Expect advances in features and continued attention to security flaws as we enter a summer of separation.
Properly plan for virtual meetings
Preparation is key to make the most of video conferencing. Several key components are necessary to plan for a virtual meeting. Working remotely requires setting the stage and managing the technology side with confidence. Don’t think of this as contrived, but rather a chance to control the image put forth. Content is important, but so is setting, tone, connection, and body language.
Leadership strategist Adrian Dernell says, “Hosting a video-conference is a lot like anchoring your TV show.”
Understand, and Implement, Virtual Meeting Protocols
Set the backdrop for a virtual meeting by finding a quiet space in your home that is free from distractions. Microsoft and other developers are working on AI-boosted advances to silence background noise. In the meantime, minimize disruptions… including your phone.
Control the lighting
If the quiet space doesn’t have good lighting, bring in a lamp or two to help. Avoid backlighting from a window unless you are going for the ominous, shadowing figure look. Spend some time figuring out the ideal computer placement even if you need a shoebox to prop it up so your face is clearly visible.
Remember this is your TV show — show your good side.
Be camera and voice-ready
Being able to read facial expressions is helpful when building rapport and asserting integrity. In a meeting, participants should be able to see your face and hear you. Spend some time testing out the microphone and webcam without an audience.
Asking, “Can you hear me now?” does not exactly build confidence.
Use the Settings menu of the Zoom app to preview the camera view. Try out the “Touch up my appearance” feature in “Enable HD” to reduce wrinkles and other blemishes.
Now it really is like TV!
Even if someone’s webcam is off, continue to try to make a connection. Look at your camera not at the screen for the best virtual eye contact. Remember, everyone is at a different stage of familiarity and comfort with the video chat. Learn from the mistakes of others.
While taking time to set up the meeting space, make sure it’s comfortable… but not too cozy. During the presentation, allow your body to be relaxed and controlled. Avoid fidgeting and nervous gesturing. Practice movements in advance to see how they might appear on the screen.
Remember to breathe… just not into the microphone.
Keep the client engaged
With the limited visibility, it can be difficult to read body language and engagement. Be sure not to get so caught up with the presentation that your voice becomes monotone. Your client will be fast asleep.
Drop the rigid presentation for a more conversational tone and connect with the audience. Allow pauses… ask questions. Get the client’s buy-in before moving on. Give people time to unmute and speak up.
If the pause becomes awkward, blame it on buffering and move on.
Plan for the client’s screen
As you try to increase engagement, be aware of the types of devices other people are using to participate in the virtual meeting. Some may need to use a tablet or phone. These may not be ideal, but plan for that.
What’s the point of a complex chart if it’s too tiny to decipher on a phone?
Make the visuals clear and easy to read. Avoid frustrating the client with files that can’t be viewed. Focus on the highlights or critical points that need to be shared. Otherwise, let your face do the talking. Forward the documents to the client for reference. While you may want to hide behind PowerPoint slides or other shared files, keep your face on the screen.
Market research has found the human face is persuasive to other humans.
Write a script
Keep trying to engage even if you can’t see who is on the other side. A conversational tone does not need to mean unscripted. It’s easy to panic managing all these components alone: lighting, tech, and content. Consider writing a script to keep the meeting on track.
There’s nothing worse than realizing you are almost out of time and not even halfway through your talking points. Plan out the script to see how to address all key points in the scheduled time. Most people speak at about 130 words per minute.
Speed talking does not win any prizes… neither does wrestling through notes.
A teleprompter app may help ease the workload. For less than $20, you can look poised and focused as you engage with the audience. An individual’s attention span is much shorter during video meetings than in person. It’s exhausting staying focused on that little screen.
Make virtual meetings work for you
Harness the power of the virtual meeting through careful planning and consideration of your client’s needs. Take control of the situation. Make the most of the human connection to build rapport and your business. Remember, you set the stage.