You consider yourself good at meeting other people. Perhaps you even built a successful career around the fact that you know how to dominate a room. You’re not afraid to speak your mind in front of large groups or approach new people to chit-chat. You’re simply one of those people who know how to get your point across and get people in the room to listen to you.
Then the coronavirus happened.
You’re now stuck behind a 13-inch screen, trying to impress people in Skype or Zoom meetings. All of your experience with tackling different personalities IRL are currently about as useful as a room full of hoarded toilet paper even though there is no shortage of supply.
Don’t fret, my friend. Here are four tips that will help you get your point across in this strange new world of electronic meetings.
1. Make sure you have a nice background
I can’t count the number of people I’ve met online in the last few weeks who have had a backdrop of either laundry hanged out to dry, a kitchen full of dishes or a five-year-old watching Spongebob Squarepants.
Frankly, it’s a bit depressing to see that stuff. Nobody wants to see your old socks in the background.
So, what is a “nice background”?
Here you have different options depending on what suits your personality. A single-coloured wall will never be wrong for the professional, but not that exciting either. A real corporate pro raises a huge roll-up in the background with the company logo. The more eclectic person can opt for a painting, mural or something similar. Now, if you really want to separate yourself from the pack, you can let your imagination run totally wild. Build a jungle backdrop with plants, fill that shelf case behind you with lots of colourful lollipops, get a mannequin and dress it in a fabulous ball gown – the further you go, the bigger the impression.
2. Ditch that “I’m-working-from-home-corona-uniform”
Even though you haven’t stepped out of your sweatpants and that moth ridden t-shirt for two weeks, it is probably a good idea to do so before your next meeting. The working-from-home uniform won’t do you any good in terms of attention.
What you should wear instead?
Again, different strokes for different folks. Some might go for a shirt and jacket, and that’s fine. Even better options would be bowties, wigs or funny hats – I saw a guy with a fez the other day, perfect example! Also, think colour. Black and white won’t light you up in a Zoom meeting with 50+ people.
3. Arrange the meeting yourself
If you are the meeting organiser, you immediately put yourself in a power position. Not only will people look to you to steer the conversation, you are also in control of the participants’ ability to make themselves heard. Is that annoying colleague from the sourcing department talking too much? Just put him/her in a separate Zoom room with a couple other deadbeats and task them with coming up with a strategy for implementing new letter heads to your invoices. Report back via e-mail!
4. Don’t get caught up in technical issues
In the first minute of a meeting, there’s always someone panicking about some technical stuff.
“I CAN’T SEE YOU! CAN YOU SEE ME!???”
Yes, we can see you there in your sweatpants in front of the laundry.
“HOW DO I CHANGE MY NAME??”
You go to the control panel and edit it, silently.
Don’t be that guy. There’s nothing more annoying than someone taking up other people’s time with stuff like this, and on top of that, it immediately downgrades you to nerd status in that particular meeting which is tough to recover from. Solution: familiarise yourself with the application you’re using before you start a meeting.
Also, make sure your web camera shows your whole face, not just the bald patch on your dome.
(Plus point for “eclectic” painting though)
That’s it folks! Now go out there (in there?) and meet people!