It is good news that more people are returning to work after having been furloughed. However it is unlikely teams, departments and meetings of any kind will be totally face to face for a while. Read this guide on returning to work. We need to be aware that communicating virtually has some differences to face to face training. I am not going to discuss the technical side at this stage, but would recommend you have your video switched on; check your sound to ensure everyone can hear you; and position yourself where there is light on your face AND the background isn’t distracting!
Only this week I read a post from a friend who said that during the lockdown he and his friends had weekly virtual meetings and after 40 minutes were struggling to think of what to say. Last week they met in a socially distanced barbeque. After 4 hours they still hadn’t stopped talking! The reason why I mention this is that virtual meetings ARE different. We don’t have the same number of non-verbal cues; we have to concentrate more and we all know there are so many other things going on in real life meetings!
Here are 5 of the differences between live and virtual meetings for you to be aware of:
Body language and non-verbal communication: In real life we are aware of eye contact; body language; gestures and facial expressions which just aren’t picked up in the same way on virtual meetings. When someone wants to contribute to a meeting, leaning forward or indicating easily to the facilitator is much more straight forward than raising your hand or putting something in chat! I should say we SHOULD be aware of our body language in virtual meetings and I positively encourage you to switch on your videos for increased engagement. And smile. And look as though you are listening and engaged!
Fatigue: there has been a lot written about ‘Zoom fatigue’ and those day long meetings we had in real life situations are not practical – or productive. Staring at a screen; listening and focusing on conversations are tiring. I would urge you to limit meetings to one hour before a break. And consider if everyone needs to be on the call. Could you convey the information in other ways – such as sharing the information via a project management platform, or one to one calls with individuals?
Being memorable: If you are one of a number of people appearing as small rectangles on a screen, you can easily be lost visually. However, the purpose of a meeting is actually to share and discuss information. Being concise, clear and focused when you contribute will ensure you are far more memorable than someone who rambles! So do some preparation beforehand.
Etiquette: I strongly recommend someone facilitates the meeting, and sets some ‘rules’ of how to behave. These could include muting yourself unless it is your turn to speak; not interrupting others; limiting the time individuals speak. The facilitator can also keep an eye on the chat and encourage those who don’t normally speak or who haven’t contributed to speak.
Distractions: in virtual meetings it is easier for individuals to be distracted particularly if they are working from home in a shared workspace. Other members of the family or household could disturb you; you might be home schooling as well as having to attend meetings. Then there could be background noise; emails and your phone pinging! Think about how you could manage your environment, so that you could focus on the meeting. Could you put a notice on your door? Switch off your phone and Outlook? Could you settle your children but warn other attendees that you might need to check your children?
I deliver virtual workshops and live webinars on facilitating and making an impact in virtual meetings. If you would like to discuss training I could deliver please
Also, I have created a 10 top tips for virtual team working. Grab your copy here.