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Supercharge your Virtual Impact


In this blog, Causeway Director, Executive Coach and Strategy, Planning and People Consultant, Brigid Whoriskey provides some helpful tips to enhance and boost your virtual impact when online.


For both work and pleasure, virtual meetings have become the norm.  Zoom, which many of us hadn’t heard of 12 months ago, has become a verb in common parlance.  For many, the early faltering steps were stressful:

  • Will the tech work? 
  • Why can no one hear me?  
  • Aaarrrggghhh – do I really look like that?  
  • How do I turn off my video?
  • Can I get a word in edgeways?
  • Where is the link? 
  • Oh Sh*t!


Most of us have been there - and we survived.  Somehow, most of our concerns melted away as our experience grew.  

It has becoming increasingly clear that virtual meetings and virtual events are not going away.  We are probably moving to a hybrid model mixing face-to-face and virtual meetings, and in many cases the norm will be virtual first, face-to-face by exception.

So, have we cracked this online world?  Probably not.  There is always room for improvement and here are some tips that we learned from our six month crash course that might help to supercharge your virtual impact!

Read on for my tips on:

  1. Looking Great
  2. Sounding Great
  3. Engaging your audience
  4. The Tech
  5. If something goes wrong


1. Looking Great


Think about how you want to come across. If it’s a Zoom call with your mates over a glass of vino then curled up on your sofa with your comfy washed-out top is fine.  If it is an important business meeting or event, then you want to look professional.  


  • Manage your shot – think of the space you are using as your office studio. Careful staging will achieve the most professional look. Smaller spaces are better than large ones, and check what is in view of the camera  (do you really want the spare bed on view?).

  • Be careful of virtual backgrounds – they don’t always work well and your image can be distorted.  It is up to you and depends on your situation, but I’d go for a real background if you can.

  • Get your lighting right. A brightly lit room is great but natural light changes all the time. Make sure the light source is in front of you not behind you.  You probably have a couple of study lamps in the house – one light pointing at your face and one at the side is ideal.

  • Look at the lens, not the person – at least for some of the time. It feels weird at first but the more you do it the more natural it feels and it’s the closest thing we have to eye contact.

  • Position your camera carefully. You should be in the middle of the frame and your eyes should be about one third of the way down the screen. The camera should be pointed it straight on, or slightly above you, never pointing upwards (no one wants to see up your nostrils!).
  • Dress to suit your audience.  This certainly isn’t a grooming lesson, you can figure it out!


2. Sounding Great


  • Manage background noise (select your space to minimise noise).  A good mic will improve the audio quality.   

  • Speak in a clear engaging way.  Vary your tone of voice, watch you pace – in particular, be careful not to speak too quickly.

  • Start as you mean to go on.  If you are looking for energy and participation, start in a high energy way and get the audience involved.

  • Join in. If attending a virtual meeting or event, do not be afraid to join in and have your say.  Use the chat as an easy way to share your views and portray your ideas and raise your hand or jump in when questions are asked. The more you do this the easier it becomes.  

  • Smile and be your wonderful authentic self.


3. Engaging your Audience


If you are leading a virtual meeting or event, put at least as much time into planning as you would a face-to-face event

  • Think about your audience - the people attending the meeting or event - and ensure your format and content works for them

  •  Signpost what is coming up at the start of a virtual meeting so people know what to expect 

  • Prepare a running order but be flexible

  • If it’s a long session, plan for breaks

  • If you are leading the session, plan your killer intro. Try welcoming people as they arrive. You could start with a strong statement, short engaging story (keep it to 60 seconds) or a question for people to think about. Don’t overdo the anecdotes or they might get in the way.  

  • Ensure your housekeeping bit (if required) is short and upbeat – maybe one engaging slide could capture it all.

  • In most cases, it’s good to give people an opportunity to participate and interact.  Roughly every 6-8 minutes do something to get people engaged – a question, an action, a different voice, a new agenda item, an image, a video clip – otherwise you may lose people.

  • Practice POSI - be positive, open, supportive, and inclusive. People will love your meetings if you do.

  • If using a script, its best to be 85% to camera, 15% looking at script.  If you are formally presenting, try placing any prompt notes behind your webcam.

If making a presentation, ensure it is:


  • Right for the audience
  • Snappy and engaging
  • Be brief - avoid too many slides or too busy slides
  • Remove slides when for discussion or interaction 
  • Have a copy just in case the slides share fails 

  • Have a co-pilot that you can call on to help you facilitate or keep an eye on the chat or Q&A.

  • Have a planning or rehearsal session with any speakers or panel members for the event and dial in at least 15 minutes early to test sound and video.  This also helps you and the others to settle in for the main event.

  • Rehearse – practice makes perfect.


4. The tech


I am no technology expert – but I have learned there’s lots of expertise out there. So, get familiar with the platform you are using, play around with it and ask for help. We’ve all been forced to adapt to more working online in the last few months and just look at how far we’ve come. Here are my top tips from holding more virtual sessions than I’ve had hot dinners in the past few months:

  • If you’re working on a laptop, consider setting up a second screen – they’re not that expensive and can make life a lot easier.

  • Test your camera and mic – if you want to appear professional, it can make a big difference to invest in a separate webcam and mic, especially if you are delivering webinars or events.
  • If you think your internet connection is dodgy, check your internet signal – you can do this on fast.com.  The following can help to boost your signal:
o Ensuring you are as near the router as possible
o Hardwiring directly into the router
o Boosting your signal with a Devolo adapter (other brands are available) which distributes the Internet signal from your router to any room
o Ensuring there are not too many users at the same time (if there are others in the house streaming Netflix or gaming while you are trying to run an important meeting, you could be in trouble)

  • Get in control. It’s well worth playing around with the platform before an important meeting or event to get to know the platform,  understand the features and ensure you look and sound ok.
 PlatformFeatures  Test Add-ons Connection
Get to know your
platform 


  • Use online tutorials
  • (most platforms have
  • lots of free ones)
  • Find an expert – or a
  • teenager
  • No question is too
  • stupid to ask
Decide which features you want to use


  • Chat / Q&A
  • Polls
  • Breakout rooms
  • Presentation / screen share
  • Muting and unmuting; turning video on and off
  • Audience reaction / interaction
Test every feature  you want to use, on multiple devices, before the eventConsider getting a mic and/or or webcam to improve sound and/or video quality Check your internet connection and ensure no other devices are streaming at the time of your important meeting or event

 

5. And if something goes wrong?


Don’t panic. We’ve all been there and people are more forgiving than we think.  Someone on the call probably knows more than you – ask for help. 

I have had loads of hic-ups on virtual meetings and events – most of the time I was the only one who noticed. If you stay confident, tell people what’s going on (the presentation isn’t loading so bear with us for a moment), smile – even laugh at yourself.  It is rarely a disaster.

It is also good to have a back-up plan. For example, I always have my content to hand in case in case a presentation fails – and if so, I just talk without the slides.  If I plan breakout rooms, I also have a back-up plan in case the breakout rooms fail.  Many meetings offer dial in as well as video giving another option if video fails. Most
problems are not showstoppers, breathe, stay confident and carry on.

There’s loads of guidelines and tips out there, search for anything you need to know. I’d like to give a shout out to the Impact Guru Esther Stanhope who gave me loads of tips on pivoting to virtual at the start of lockdown. She shares lots of ideas and resources on her weekly emails if you want to sign up here.

Now go forth and supercharge your online impact!

If you’d like to discuss any of these ideas further, or if Brigid can support you or your teams, please contact brigid@envision-solutions.co.uk

Author: Brigid Whoriskey

Date Published:


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