If you are a little like me, you probably like singing in the toilet. Where you sing your heart out, and think less about what people say. But today, you might be concerned over how you look over Zoom. You find yourself taking a step back, and staying quiet in a virtual meeting. Your eyes get tired after staring at screens for the whole day.
How can you make virtual meetings as enjoyable as singing in the toilet? How do you have better virtual meetings?
Sing to one, speak directly to one person.
You are just singing for an audience of one. Similarly, when you speak, speak to an audience of one.
Use second person personal pronouns like ‘you’, rather than third person pronouns like ‘they’ or ‘them’. Make your response feel personalised to the person you are speaking to.
Use names whilst meeting virtually.
One of my favourite songs is, “Hey Jude”, by The Beatles. Refer to the names of people within the team meeting. Nothing sounds better than someone’s own name. It makes them feel like they are part of the conversation. It alerts your fellow meeting participants that you are aware of their presence. They are not just pixels on the screen.
It’s also easier to sit back and wait for someone else to respond in a virtual meeting. Direct questions or invite responses from people by calling their name directly. Don’t leave it to chance.
Stop looking at yourself in a virtual meeting.
You are probably not very self-conscious when you are singing in the toilet. You are singing your heart out, barely thinking about what you look like.
But in virtual meetings, you might be a little more self-conscious. After all, you can see what you look like. Whether your hair is nicely coiffed. Or whether your shirt looks great. Or whether your gestures seem overboard.
Here’s a secret. You can turn that off. In the preferences of Zoom, you can go under ‘Video’ and then turn off the option to spotlight yourself when you are speaking. You can also ‘Hide self-view’ on Zoom, clicking on the three-dots button on the video of yourself.
Why should you do this?
Because looking at yourself whilst you are speaking is like staring at a mirror whilst you are talking to someone else.
Have in your mind someone you are singing/speaking to.
When you sing your heart out in the toilet, you might have someone you are singing to. Or singing for. When speaking virtually, try not to speak into a vacuum. Have in mind someone you are directing your question or response to.
Create a good conversation space for singing/meeting.
I have a nice area in my toilet where I love singing. There, the acoustics are good. It feels like there is surround sound.
When meeting virtually, you can build a good conversation space by bringing people into the conversation.
Notice that someone is quieter? Ask them to share their opinion.
Ensure that you sound good in an online meeting.
I love using my shower hose as an ad-hoc microphone when I’m belting out a great tune. You probably have had that experience when someone said they couldn’t hear you. Make sure you have a good mic when meeting online. It doesn’t have to be something fancy.
Ideally, it should have the mic piece close to your mouth, so that it picks up your voice easily.
Singing is all about the eyes. Meeting online is all about the eye contact.
Physically, you used to be able to shake hands to establish rapport. In the virtual world, it’s about the eye contact. Look directly into the webcam when you are speaking. It establishes trust and rapport.
Your eyes become the window whereby the audience decides whether they can trust you. Try not to look at the screen when you are speaking.
Meeting virtually can be difficult. But when you look at it like singing in the toilet, you will realise that you already have all the skills required.
Often, an online meeting can feel impersonal and distanced. But by directly addressing people, including them within the conversation, and looking into the webcam, you begin to bridge the virtual distance.
Working from home can be tough. Find out how to overcome that here.