The (New) Rules of Engaging Virtual Meetings – Tip #1

by | Jul 2, 2020

A Series of Quick Tips for Success: Tip #1

Admit it: like COVID-19, virtual meetings and virtual trainings are not going away anytime soon.

In fact, due to the global pandemic (aka – these uncertain times), they have become our new normal. And, despite all the Zoom, Teams, Webex, GoToMeeting, and Bluejeans meeting fatigue we’re all feeling, the undeniable financial and time efficiencies virtual platforms offer lead us to believe that the virtual meeting is out of the stable for good, even when we do have the ability to break bread sans mask.

So, if these are the cards we’re dealt, it’s time we form a winning hand. Let’s get focused on how to meet and how to train in the most effective, brain-friendly, and engaging ways possible. At automätik, an award-winning training and events firm whose mission is to “eradicate boring training from the face of the Earth,” we take this challenge personally.

Over the past few months, we’ve been relentless in attending “best practice” webinars, researching tips and strategies, exploring virtual platforms, and testing production methods in the pursuit of elevating the virtual meeting and training environment to unprecedented levels.

During this time, we’ve assembled a broadcast quality virtual training / meeting studio at our SPACE 1335 event venue. We have conducted months’ worth of client demos, virtual training pilots, and produced several on-demand videos. It is from this position of experience, trial, and error, that we’ve arrived at the insights we’re sharing in this blog series.

To pull off an engaging virtual meeting, there are indeed new rules, and in this series of upcoming posts, we’ll share some of our top insights to crack the code on designing and running engaging virtual meetings. Today’s primary makeover topic is one I’m sure very near and dear to your heart: YOU.

Tip #1: Turn Up the Wattage

Let’s clarify one thing: we are not talking about your run-of-the-mill weekly staff meetings, nor are we talking about your Friday happy hours. For those, conserve your energy and “you do you.” What we’re referring to here are your high-stakes virtual meetings, make-or-break client presentations, and organizational training initiatives.

For these types of moments of truth, you—and anyone involved in representing your organization—needs to turn up your presentation wattage (more than) several clicks. This includes your physical energy, your smile, your tone, and most of all your eyes.

Our in-house video production specialist, Sean, is an Emmy Award-winning videographer. When coaching someone how to “be” on camera, he puts it this way, “Pretend the person you’re talking to is directly on the other side of the camera lens.” 

When you take Sean’s advice, your on-screen presence will jump to another level. Here’s a fun way to practice this concept:

  1. Put your phone in selfie-video mode (or have a friend film you).
  2. Practice staring directly at the tiny camera lens (spoiler alert: this is also Tip #2).
  3. As you talk—really, saying anything—try to SHOOT WORDS THROUGH YOUR EYES.
  4. Really, try to overdo the eye contact, the energy, the smiles, and the changes in voice tone!
  5. Watch your game film. (And we get it, no one likes to see their game film, but do it anyways.)
  6. Try again, dialing it up or down based on what you see.
  7. Repeat until you’ve found your best on-screen self.
  8. Save that video version for future reference.

We’ll be straight with you. The first few times you do this, you’re going to feel like a wide-eyed lunatic, but every time we’ve coached a teammate through this exercise, they look like a professional news anchor. You see, what you think is “overdoing it” is most likely just about right for your audience. That’s largely because in a virtual world, you need to over-project just to connect.