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Hello and welcome to the first post in our miniseries on Remote Communication - perhaps not the miniseries you were planning on bingeing this week. This is the first of three posts focusing on mastering the virtual environment. Today: tips for online presenting. Next will be remote meeting facilitation, then virtual engagement tools, plus answers to any questions or issues you have. Work related, ideally, but we’re here for you.
Beaming In Live
These posts are designed to support and elaborate on our Webinar series - the next of which will be: Virtual Meetings: Tips and tricks for awesome remote meetings and group facilitation on Wednesday 8th April at 1.30pm. Register here for this free 45-minute Webinar hosted by Russell Pickering and please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions you’d like covered in upcoming posts or webinars. We’re here to help. Well, not here here.
One of the most disconcerting things about working in a virtual environment is having so many things out of our control. Tech can let us down, someone might forget to dial in, our pyjama pants might fall down at a crucial moment. Just kidding, all the snacking means those pants are going nowhere. But how can we feel more in control?
Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong (citation: Murphy). Tell your meeting participants your plan for a tech crash. We suggest nominating a 5-minute window for reconnect. If you don’t manage it in that time, have a reschedule in place.
If your virtual meeting platform has fallen over, make sure everyone has a backup login for another platform, even if it’s not a platform you usually use for business. Snapchat has a hell of a beauty filter, just saying.
Days can blur into one without the structure of daily routine, so communicate your expectations clearly. Email reminders, and then text the hour before a meeting. Be clear about regular times and deadlines: even if these were set in stone before, those stones are fast becoming a landslide. As Stevie Nicks warned us, landslides can bring you down.
Set a time limit. Attention fatigue is rife in virtual meetings. The energy of face-to-face meetings sustains itself, but it’s hard work engaging online for long periods. Shorter, more frequent check-ins work better than lengthy agendas.
An unnecessary meeting, virtual or otherwise, is a massive time-waster. Not every thought needs to be Zoomed or Skyped or MS Teamed. Pick up the phone. And overzealous micro-managers checking in for a virtual ‘roll call’ at 8am - place a little trust in your teams. We’re all in this together, just separately.
What about you? What can you do to feel confident and assured when you’re also looking at yourself bounce around in a little box like some kind of Potter Puppet Pal? Dumbledore!
What’s behind you? Is it tidy? Is it not too obviously the toilet? Add warmth and vulnerability to your communications by making your backdrop tastefully reflect your personality. Vulnerability, in small doses, makes you more likeable. If you have a polarising personality, feel free to choose a blank wall over the Baywatch posters.
Create the illusion of eye contact by looking directly at the camera when you’re speaking. This won’t come naturally – you’ll be drawn to look at your own image first. If you have difficulty looking into the camera, try putting a little photo next to it and speaking to that.
Organise your screen to make yourself more comfortable. Zoom’s Speaker View makes the person speaking take up the bulk of the screen, but Gallery View allows everyone an equal size box, which feels more like a conversation. For a presentation, you can turn off the other cameras so that there are no distractions from your slides. Use your platform’s configuration that works for you – it will be different for different encounters.
Home, But Not Alone
We’re here to support you in your virtual communications. We’ll get more into how to organise content, facilitate online meetings and boost engagement in the coming weeks.
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