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Nov 24

Virtual Business Meetings

Posted by: Steve Marr

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With COVID-19 sending millions of Americans home to work, many meetings which were conducted in person are now conducted through our computer screens. A wise businessperson keeps in mind that even when working from home we need to exhibit a professional persona during these meetings.

Consider what God said to Samuel: "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV) Keep in mind that your image is always subject to scrutiny. For example, if you attend a virtual meeting in your pajamas, with ruffled hair, unshaven or otherwise looking sloppy; your colleague or boss may develop a perspective that your work is subpar even if your work is excellent. 

Here are some important reminders to increase your professionalism in a virtual meeting.

This will improve sound quality.  Make sure the microphone is unobtrusive.  While headsets are functional and I use them frequently, I don’t use them during important meetings. Your goal is to make a favorable impression during every meeting or customer presentation. Sound quality from unobtrusive equipment is a small, subtle difference you can use.

2.  Eliminate distractions.

Disconnect your home telephone and turn off or remove your cell phone from the area.  Any ringing will cause a distraction during the meeting. Additionally, make sure children understand the importance of work-time meetings and are not allowed to interfere.  Also, place pets where they will not be heard. Close out all tabs, including email and texts. You must avoid the possibility of a computer ding or videos that start to play on their own.

3.  Dress conservatively with good grooming as if you were attending an in-office meeting.

Sometimes we consider online meetings less formal. Instead, consider how your attire will look on a computer screen and make sure that what you wear doesn’t create a distraction.  Dress in a similar fashion that you would if you are visiting a client or attending a meeting in the office. You want to convey the image that you are serious about your job even when working at home.

4.  Consider the background you use.

Avoid unnecessary clutter and junk. For example, if there is a table with knickknacks on it, remove all or most to make sure they do not cause a visual distraction.   Recently when I conducted an important virtual meeting, I repositioned my computer camera using my bookshelf as a backdrop.  

5.  Consider lighting.

Make sure your face is well lit without shadows. Be careful that bright lighting from a window doesn’t affect your appearance.

6.  Think about your posture.

Give extra thought to your posture and how you will look. Practice to see how you come across.  Experiment with the right placement so that your face is what the other meeting attendees see easily.  Maintain eye contact with the camera.  Don’t let your eyes wander or be distracted.  It sends the message that you are disinterested, and unfocused. 

Virtual meetings can become your friend.  They can help you focus on the most important part of meeting:  articulating your ideas and actions that move you forward in a project. Let this be a skill that COVID-19 allows you to add to your toolchest.  


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