Part 2 – How to boost presence in virtual meetings

Virtual conference roomVery often I hear from leaders that they consider videoconferencing the ultimate way of interacting remotely and be present. This is true if you still rely on visual tools as the one and only form of expressing your presence. Research shows that the selection of technology should be balanced along two axes to make virtual meetings most effective:
1) the level of information/data exchange required and
2) the level of social/emotional interaction needed.

There are many instances where screen sharing of documents and telephone conferencing is much more effective than a videoconference. As a consequence, paying attention to your voice is a key element to enhance your presence in virtual interaction. Here is a link to a fantastic TED talk about voice presence: Julian Treasure  –How to speak so that people want to listen

In addition, I would highly recommend to also exercise your hearing and listening skills. As strange as it might sound, both are as important for your virtual presence as your voice.
With all these meetings taking place as conference-calls or  a combination of audio/video with a screen share option many tools provide here are a few tips from my personal experience that can help you to enhance your presence in these virtual meetings. I cluster these in two:  technology and personal.

Let’s start with the technology related tips:
  • Be savvy with the required whatever tool you are using and go the extra mile in mastering the functionalities.
  • Ensure your Internet speed is not becoming a limiting factor during a video or screen share activity; i.e. by cancelling all other programmes that access the Internet but which you don’t need for the meeting. Be restrictive! E-Mail is usually one of them!
  • Make sure your computer screen is large enough so you can easily read all the text, chat messages and menus in the system you’re using.
  • Provide sufficient light to illuminate your face and avoid backlight situations as you will appear as a silhouette only to everyone else.
On the personal side consider the following:
  • When joining a telephone conference don’t think about dialling in and speaking over the phone. Prime your mind with the following thought: I am going into a meeting and visualise the other participants in the same room with me (maybe closing your eyes helps to provoke that thought).
  • When using a screen share technology or a virtual platform don’t think about sitting in front of the computer. Instead, prime your mind with the following thought:  I enter the meeting room and take a seat at the table (for those who like Star Trek maybe you could imagine going into the ‘Holo-Deck’).

As strange as these personal tips may sound, many people I have spoken to who do a lot of virtual interaction very successfully confirmed having similar pictures in mind for their remote part of leadership.

It truly works by shifting your own mindset and therefore creating an attitude of “this is the most normal thing in the world and who needs to share one meeting room?”

If you’re interested in a more detailed conversation on this subject get in touch with me and we can explore virtual presence in much more depth or feel free to leave a comment below.

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