With much of the workforce now working remotely, the majority of the day is spent on video conferences and phone calls to stay connected. Participating in a meeting, albeit virtually, is an art – and with practice, you can become a confident, valuable contributor, both virtually and in person. We’ve outlined some key tips so you can increase your visibility, have your voice heard, and enhance your career prospects. Here are a variety of ways to be heard and respected in a virtual meeting.
Always be prepared
You have an important video conference on your schedule, prepare for it the same way you would for an in-person meeting. Start by reading the meeting agenda, so you have a strong grip on what is to be covered. Find an item you feel confident and knowledgeable about. Your work is to develop your ideas into an insightful and well-thought-out statement, which will give you the confidence you need from the get-go. If you need notes, don’t hesitate to use them! They will only act as reminders and show both the time and effort you put into your preparation.
Consider sharing your ideas with one or two trusted colleagues before the meeting in order to get feedback and give yourself the chance to practice ahead of time. Whether it be a mentor or a team member, your co-workers have your best interest in mind and want to help you succeed, no matter the situation.
Check in early & speak clearly
We recommend logging onto the video conference a minute or two early to make sure your webcam and sound are working. Be sure you have a professional backdrop and sufficient lighting as well. When you have had adequate time to adjust to your surroundings, you are more likely to feel confident and speak up during the meeting. If you’re running late and arrive after the meeting has started, you’ll be drawing the wrong kind of attention to yourself.
With video conferences it’s even more important to speak clearly. Sometimes connections aren’t perfect so make sure you enunciate so others can hear you and give you the floor. If appropriate, we also recommend speaking sooner rather than later. By speaking early in the meeting, you’ll immediately boost your confidence and feel more relaxed and positive. Waiting too long to speak will have the opposite effect – you may become increasingly more nervous and someone else may put forward the strong ideas you had mapped out prior to the meeting.
Some Dos and Don’ts
- Brush up on your video conference etiquette. Always mute yourself when you’re not speaking. And it may seem obvious, but if you have a scheduled video conference and the capability to join via video, don’t just dial-in because it feels less intimidating. Doing so will actually draw more attention to yourself.
- Keep it short – Don’t go on and on, your efficient delivery will be appreciated. And being as succinct as possible also lowers the likelihood of being interrupted. This is especially important during video conferences with a number of participants.
- Remember to breathe! Abdominal breathing will make you more relaxed and confident and therefore more likely to be heard.
- Speak slowly and articulately. Don’t rush, and speak more slowly than you normally would.
- Remember to smile, this will help you to connect and present a friendly demeanor.
- Look directly into the camera when speaking
- Don’t start talking while you’re still on mute
- Don’t apologize – State your contribution with conviction and avoid saying “I’m sorry, but…” This weakens your position.
- Don’t self-edit or censor yourself. Have confidence in your thoughts and ideas.
- Don’t wait for a “eureka” moment to speak!
- Don’t cause distractions, remember your colleagues can see you.
To be effective, video conferences and in person meetings need to be worthwhile events, not opportunities for a small subset of attendees to take center stage. If you can learn how to make the most of these meetings and have your opinions heard it can be an incredibly satisfying and empowering experience!