The (New) Rules of Engaging Virtual Meetings – Tip #3

by | Jul 21, 2020

A Series of Quick Tips for Success: Tip #3

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.

To pull of an engaging virtual meeting, there are indeed new rules, and in this series of posts, we will share some of our top insights we’ve found to crack the code on designing and running engaging virtual meetings. Today we are going to talk about the big elephant in the room….or on your screen….RBF.

Tip #3: Mind the RBF

An enduring memory for many people over a certain age (sorry, Gen Z) was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a whole experience. The massive floating displays, the bands, and the excitement of the hosts created a really special atmosphere. 

However, one year (which shall not be named) the producers cut back to the hosts from a commercial break a little early and it really showed the mundane reality beneath the magic: both hosts were staring around, stone faced, and not making eye contact with each other. Then, all of a sudden, they realized (with a high degree of panic) that they were LIVE! Instantly, they both sprang to life, stared at the camera and resumed their overjoyed state.

The harsh truth is that these people were acting. They weren’t over the moon about the Poughkeepsie Marching Band or the Winnie the Pooh float, they were playing make believe—and they got caught doing it.

Now, knowing what we know about the live event and training world, we’re pretty sure the hosts weren’t bored, nor did they disdain each other; they were simply conserving their energy until they were back on camera. If anything, they were guilty of what we now call RBF. Resting B_tch Face. (You can fill in the blank, this is a family show.)

RBF is the phenomena of looking incredibly annoyed, or even downright angry, when your facial muscles are at rest. While we joke about it around the office, it’s a really bad look to project in a virtual meeting. We’re sure those Thanksgiving and New Year’s segments were extremely demanding for on-screen hosts, but we would humbly submit that keeping your energy up during a virtual meeting may be even MORE challenging. After all, you are rarely (if ever) off camera during the entire time. And, it is extremely easy to let your RBF creep in and project a dour image to your audience.

In your next virtual meeting, here’s a recommendation: take a moment to look around. Count the RBFs you see. While you know the look isn’t intentional, what kind of vibe is it giving off? More importantly, what type of message may it be sending to a potential client? If you are recording a virtual meeting, we’d 100% suggest giving it a timeline scrub and monitor your (and your team’s) RBF ratio. We think it’ll really shock you.

As they say, “recognition is the first step to recovery” (We think that’s what they say, anyway). So, when it comes to taming your RBF, just realizing you may have one is a win. Then, you’re going to need to practice monitoring it during high-stakes virtual meetings. We’ve actually found that pairing Tip #1 (turn up the wattage) and #2 (stare at the camera) can help mitigate early RBF onset. Hey, it’s pretty hard to scowl when you KNOW you are on-camera.