If you’re anything like me, you have been attending non-stop virtual meetings and events since the Coronavirus forced us all to hunker down in our homes. Online meetings are a different animal altogether than when you gather in person. Sure, there’s still sharing of information and an exchange of ideas happening, BUT – there are other subtle differences that have a big impact on the overall quality of a virtual meeting. If you’re the host, you want to put your best foot forward in producing a great experience for your attendees.
Here are four ways you may be annoying your virtual audience that you weren’t even aware of:
1. Poor Lighting – Love all that natural light that pours into the room where you like to do your meetings? Great! Just make sure that you are facing towards that light, and that it’s not in back of you. Otherwise, you’ll turn into a silhouette. And no one would be able to see you. And that would be very bad. You don’t want to be directly under an overhead light either, as this can cause shadows that take attention away from your face. It’s best to have straight-on lighting. My must-have lighting tool for virtual meetings and videos is my ring light. What I love is that I can adjust the brightness and color to my liking – SCORE!
2. No engagement – Remember that teacher or professor who bored you to tears in school? You felt a slight sense of dread when it was time to go to their class. Well, your attendees feel the same way when you host a virtual meeting that feels like a lecture. In other words, no engagement whatsoever. There are many easy ways to keep their attention: stop and ask a question, use polls (Zoom offers this feature), or have them post to the chat. You can even get the ball rolling early by emailing them a thought-provoking question ahead of the meeting, to then be discussed once you’re all together online.
3. Not looking in the camera – This is probably the top mistake people make in virtual meetings. Take a wild guess where most people are looking. Maybe you’re even doing it. Ok, drumroll…Folks are looking…at…themselves. Instead of looking into that small dot (also known as the camera) at the top of the laptop or monitor, people are looking at themselves on the screen. And your audience can tell you’re doing this. I know it might feel weird looking right into the camera because you can’t see the people and it feels like you’re not talking to anyone. However, to your audience it will appear as if you are looking at and speaking directly to each of them. And that’s the experience you want for them.
4. Shrinking yourself – When we’re meeting in person, body language is not something we have to think about. We may make the “ok” symbol with our hands, cock our head to the side when pondering something that is said, or raise our voice to show our enthusiasm. It shouldn’t be any different for virtual events, but some of us have a tendency to “shrink” our personalities in the online space. You don’t have to use hand gestures every time you speak, but you do want to incorporate purposeful natural movements. Be mindful about expressing vocal variety as well. You don’t want your voice to fall flat with no emotion. It’s ok to be human, and to be the best version of your authentic self.
Virtual meetings don’t have to be difficult or annoying with a little forethought. I’d love to hear what you have to say about what else we can do to make it an enjoyable experience for our attendees. When we know better, we do better! Share your thoughts below.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- 1 Peter 4:10-11
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