Tips for Top Virtual Meetings 4 - Prepare for Presence
Whether you are leading a virtual meeting or just attending, the more presence you have the more you will be listened to, the more you will be remembered. The more impact you will have. My next few blogs will look at how you achieve presence virtually.
A few considerations to set you up for great presence:
What is behind you? An uncluttered background is important to keep the focus on you. So, remove the laundry basket, the dog’s bed, your unmade bed! Even a busy and untidy bookcase can be distracting. Either tidy the bookcase or hang something over it if you can’t change where you sit.
I personally don’t recommend the virtual backgrounds available unless you have a proper green screen behind you. Without that, the virtual backgrounds can leave you with a fuzzy outline or an ear missing! Besides, if you are ‘sitting on a beach in the tropics’ don’t you think your watchers will be dreaming of sunnier climes rather than paying attention to you? I am also not a fan of the blurred backgrounds available: I just find myself trying to work out what the blurred objects are. Perhaps that’s just me!
The principle is the simpler and plainer the background, the more the attention is on you!
You do need good light. It’s very difficult to radiate presence if you are sitting in the gloom. Sit in front of a window if you can. If direct sunlight is streaming in you may need to pull a blind at least partially to stop you being ‘washed out’. Try not to have a window behind you as this will leave your face in the dark. Have a lamp on in front of you, or beside you, but not behind you. Spend some time arranging where you sit and the lighting and test it out with your webcam. Once you have your setup, use it in every meeting.
I always get asked in my workshops what the dress code should be for online meetings. As for any meeting: you always need to look smart enough for the audience you are talking to, and if in doubt dress more businesslike. Not being smart enough conveys an impression you can’t be bothered, or don’t respect the people you are talking to. I would also say dress so you feel like you are working! And by the way, just in case you are tempted to have ‘a bit of fun’ by being businesslike on the top half and wearing your pyjamas down below: what happens if you have to stand up to get something, or open the door during the meeting? I’ve seen it happen!
More on virtual presence next time…