I’m guessing your schedule today includes at least one Zoom meeting! Am I right?
For most of us, video communication has now become the norm.
So what does that mean? For one thing, it means we can stay in pajama pants without anyone knowing! But it also means we have to rethink how we’re communicating. Your leadership presence is now being transmitted digitally, limited to what comes across in the small rectangle box of your video feed. Need some Zoom presentation tips?
Here are some ways to strengthen your virtual communication game:
Nail the tech basics. First things first — tackle your tech set-up. Ensure your video and audio are coming through clearly, which might require you to upgrade your web cam or get some new ear buds.
Pick the best background. Figure out the location in your home-office that creates the optimal background setting. What people see in the background matters — it sends a message about your personal brand. I’m not really a fan of virtual backgrounds. Although fun, they can feel too generic and are a bit clunky. I recommend that you’re either in front of a blank wall or one with an arrangement of framed items and/or bookshelves. A couple of no-nos: eliminate any clutter behind you, and avoid being in front of a window due to the problematic back-lighting.
Dress for the audience. Although virtual meetings seem to be inherently more casual (yay for that!), it’s still good to pause and consider your audience. Certain meetings still may warrant bringing out that collared shirt or fly blazer! Work it!
Position yourself well in the frame. Whether you’re sitting at a desk or standing (my preference), you’ll want to think about how you’re positioned in the virtual frame. Ideally, your web cam is at eye-level, which might mean you’ll have to get a stand for elevating your laptop or monitor. When the camera is below eye-level (which is most common, e.g. having your laptop on a desk or in your lap) it can make for a less flattering viewing angle.
Be more expressive — smile! Expressiveness is muted on camera. This means that the level of expression you would’ve had for an in-person meeting doesn’t really come across as much in virtual mode. Because of that, experiment with upping your level of expressiveness. More facial expressions, more changes in tone, and more smiling. This doesn’t mean being fake — you can strike a balance of using more expression while staying authentic.
Use hand gestures within the frame. Hand gestures can help you be more visually engaging (as long as they don’t become distracting). But you might not realize that people can’t see your typical hand gestures while on Zoom. I’ve had to consciously remember to raise my arms a bit to ensure gestures appear in the frame. Pick a few gestures that feel authentic to you and experiment with bringing those up into the frame more intentionally.
Involve others. It’s especially important in virtual mode to solicit participation from others. People are more likely to get distracted in a Zoom meeting, so it’s helpful to involve them actively in your presentation. Pose a question, invite comments in the chat box, ask someone to read something aloud, and send participants into breakout groups.
Vary your delivery. During an in-person meeting, you might have left your PowerPoint presentation up on the screen the entire time. But in a Zoom meeting, you’ll want to switch back and forth between sharing and not sharing your screen. Practice moving in and out of the presentation — I’ve found that people are more likely to interact when outside of presentation mode since this allows participants to see more of their colleagues’ video feeds. In addition, you can lessen your dependence on PowerPoint and vary your approach by introducing other methods for content delivery — for instance, using participant worksheets, utilizing a physical flip-chart behind you (but still in the video frame), or going old-school by holding up index cards with certain diagrams or text in hand-written form (I recently saw this done to great effect).
Get creative! One sure way to stand-out and inspire engagement from others is to incorporate some fun or play into your next virtual presentation. Instead of just presenting ideas, make your content come alive by turning it into a trivia game, timed challenge, hypothetical scenario to be solved, or other interactive activity. This will create more energy in the “room” and make your message a lot more memorable!