What You Need to Know About Virtual Meetings
Working from home means virtual meetings. These days, with platforms like Zoom enabling conferences, seminars, office hours, even lecture all online, knowing how to successfully attend virtual meetings is more important than ever. You may be thinking, virtual and in-person meetings are essentially the same besides the fact that you’re talking to a screen. And you’re partially right: luckily, most things are the same. Yet, there are a few differences that should be noted and taken to your advantage. Regardless of whether you’re a student or a full-time company executive, preparation for an excellent virtual meeting is the same. Keep reading for some pointers that will help you understand how to conquer your virtual meetings.
1. Wear appropriate attire from the waist up.
One of the benefits of #WFH is that we can get away with wearing sweatpants during a work meeting, class, or whatever it may be. (Of course, don’t make the mistake of standing up and revealing this secret to others.) Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the top half of our bodies. If you’re in a more formal meeting, try wearing a polished, proper top, blouse, or sweater. That’ll give off the impression that you’re serious about the meeting, despite it being online.
Pro-tip: collared necklines and blazers look great on Zoom.
2. Apply some light mascara, lip gloss, and powder/concealer.
Of course, these things are optional – but recommended. With the camera’s focus on your face and neck, a little makeup and jewelry will go a long way towards making you appear more polished and put-together. Now, the key is that less is more. I’m not advocating for a full face of foundation, contour, eyeshadow, red lipstick, and winged eyeliner for these virtual meetings. After all, you don’t want it to look like you’re wearing makeup at all.
Pro-tip: keep the makeup low-key.
3. Know how to work the virtual platform.
This means figuring out all the tech stuff before the meeting begins. If you don’t know how to mute your microphone, turn off your camera, share your screen, etc., spend a few extra minutes sorting out these details so that your meeting can go as smoothly as possible.
Pro-tip: always mute your microphone when you aren’t speaking.
4. Look at the camera to make “eye-contact.”
It’s well known that eye contact is fantastic for the psyche. Good eye contact equates to confidence, trust, engagement, curiosity, respect for yourself and the other person. Since we’re all looking at a screen these days, the new way to make eye contact is to look at the camera. According to Business Insider, “whether or not other people make eye contact with us changes the way that we think about them and their feelings. For example, we are more likely to remember faces with which we’ve experienced mutual gaze, and we consider displays of anger and joy to be more intense when shown by a person making eye contact.”
Pro-tip: hide your “self-view” if you tend to look at yourself and not at the camera.
5. Be mindful of your facial expressions.
Virtual meetings are not the time for RBF. As I’ve stated before, the focus is all on your face with these virtual meetings. Be extra aware of the facial expressions you’re displaying. If you feel bored or uninterested, it will show unless you make it a point to look otherwise.
Pro-tip: nod now and then, and smile periodically. You may be engaged, and you may be in a pleasant mood, but it’s harder to tell when we’re all behind the screen. Show this with your facial movements and gestures!
6. Prepare your background, lighting, and surroundings.
Unfortunately, there is no point in following steps 1-5 above if your background is sloppy. With virtual meetings, one needs to pay careful attention to their environment. Are you revealing an unmade bed? A pile of laundry off to the side? The sound of your kids’ playing with Legos behind you (cute, but not professional)? If so, do what you have to do to make the setting as non-distracting and professional as possible. The best setup is generally a simple (white) wall next to a window. That way, you’ll get natural lighting from the sun, and your background will not distract from your face. Lastly, gently remind anyone in the proximity of your upcoming meeting and to keep their noise level as low as possible. (Perhaps it’s worth investing in noise-proof earbuds if you find yourself unable to hear the discussion clearly due to your environment.)
Pro-tip: if you are stuck with a messy background, try using a high-quality virtual background instead.
7. Get enough sleep.
Eye bags are a natural part of life, but the best treatment to feel and look well-rested is sleep! People are different, but most generally require 6 to 9 hours of quality sleep. Make sure to hit the hay early enough the night before your meeting so you can showcase your best self – physically and mentally. Your body will thank you!
Pro-tip: check out this article on self-care.
8. Be present.
Try refraining from browsing Pinterest, scrolling on Tumblr, or taking any Buzzfeed quizzes during your virtual meeting. I repeat: try NOT to take these insanely awesome quizzes while you’re in your discussion (:P). In all seriousness, it really can wait until after the meeting is over. Not only is it self-evident when someone’s on Facebook instead of giving their full attention to the meeting, but it’s also not a great look. As harmless as it may be, it can come off as offensive or rude to whoever is speaking at that moment, as well as to your fellow virtual attendees.
Pro-tip: keep your phone away from you if you don’t need it for the meeting, and avoid opening up Safari or Google Chrome in the first place
If you got this far, you’re definitely on the right track for having the most smooth, productive, and respectful virtual meetings. I wish you the best of luck with all of your endeavors, and remember to stay safe and healthy while working from home. We’re all in this together!
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