The rapidly spreading coronavirus, or COVID-19, is creating havoc among business travelers, conference planners, workshop facilitators and trainers. Even travelers to countries not dealing with travel restrictions are trying to make sense of evolving company travel policies.
Global meetings and conferences are being canceled. CERAWeek, the largest energy industry gathering with delegates from 80 countries, was scheduled for this week, but planners announced its cancelation yesterday. Facebook’s global summit is canceled, as well as Google Cloud Next Conference, the Microsoft MVP Summit and the Adobe Summit. One company has requested that staff limit any nonessential face to face meetings in favor of videoconferencing.
In this day of globally distributed teams, digital nomads and the general hassles of air travel (not to mention flight shaming), it’s surprising how many people are still flying all over the globe to conduct business. The “road warrior” is alive and well — and probably loading up on alcohol gel and face masks.
In light of the current health scare, many people who aren’t accustomed to videoconferencing may find themselves having to conduct meetings, facilitate workshops or teach classes using the technology. Some people who have shied away from video conferencing because they “prefer face to face contact” are having to choose between pausing business or adapting.
Here are some tips for presenting yourself on a video conference call that will make the most of this technology and allows your global business to keep running.
Elevate your computer camera to eye level.
No one looks good with a camera angled up at their chin. Use boxes to elevate your laptop or monitor’s camera so it’s eye level and you are looking directly at it.
While you’re at it — make sure you can see yourself so you can adjust the camera accordingly. Don’t let your viewers see only your forehead during the call.
Clean up the background.
Some video conferencing tools allow you to create a backdrop. You can also get a screen, room divider, or drape. If none is available to you, the least you should do is clean up the mess behind you. Piles of books and stacks of papers are distracting.
Also, in the interest of confidentiality, it’s best to remove the white board with your strategic plans or weekly schedule.
Use a headset with a microphone.
The speakerphone on your laptop stinks. Plug in a headset, even earbuds, so that your voice is clear and doesn’t make it sound like you’re in a tin can. You can also hear better.
Either ask your viewers to mute themselves or, if you’re the host, mute them. Only the person speaking should be heard. Background noises (think dog barking, phones ringing, etc.) are distracting.
Work on your vocal quality.
An in-person presentation in which a person is droning is bad enough. Put them on a screen and there’s hardly an audience that can remain engaged, must less interested. Vary your voice — your pace and tone — to emphasize key points. Think like a radio news personality.
If you sit in front of a window or have a bright background, there is a risk your face may just be a shadow. Use a lamp to light your face.
If you can, stand up. This allows you to move your body more easily, which often helps with vocal quality. We seem more animated and engaged when we use our hands to gesture or emphasize important points. This is particularly true if you are just doing a conference call and no one can see you. Just by moving around, your voice can improve.
Is human contact generally better for meetings than video conferencing? Maybe. But this technology provides an excellent way to continue meeting and collaborating with teams and clients when travel is not an option. Using these and other techniques, your presentations and meetings can maintain engagement and collaboration.
Learn more about our online workshops or one-on-one executive coaching — over video conference, of course!