Make Your Virtual Meetings Feel More Like Real Meetings

Do your virtual meetings leave you feeling dissatisfied or disconnected? It’s not uncommon to feel distracted and out of reach in virtual meetings – even with the (usually) most engaging of colleagues and contacts. For many of us, the more we connect virtually, the more remote we feel. This begs the question; how can we create connections online and make our virtual interactions feel more human?

What you see on camera, what they see

Declutter your background so it’s not distracting to others. You need to be the focal point of your frame. Face the light. Position yourself facing a window or light so your face is well lit. You wouldn’t have a face to face meeting in the dark, virtual meetings should be the same.

We need to feel seen and heard. It’s all too easy for us or others to have our cameras off. Leave your camera on and encourage others to do so. At the start, or before the meeting, seek agreement that you will all have cameras on. Make sure you can see others and others can see you. Being able to see each other more closely resembles a face to face interaction. If you were in a real room, you’d do your best to stifle a yawn, or sneeze away from the table. Let this realism enter your virtual world too, don’t censor what’s happening to the point of vanishing.

Create more intimate moments by looking into the camera lens instead of the screen. By throwing our eyeline occasionally to the lens, we can create a connection with others. Like looking into our audience’s eyes. It might feel strange to you at first, but it helps your audience to feel seen.

Lastly, some virtual meeting platforms offer a ‘hide self-view’ button. This means that the only people you will see on screen are the others in the room, not yourself. Just like in real life.

Don’t Ignore Relationship

There can be benefits to meetings that follow on from an effort to make human connection. If you were meeting face to face, the first thing you might naturally do is spend some time either acknowledging an existing relationship or building a new relationship. Ensure your virtual interactions are the same. In virtual interactions, this process of acknowledging relationship doesn’t flow as easily as face to face because we are not sharing the same physical space. Therefore, we need to make a more conscious effort right up front to build personal connection – even if it feels more self-conscious on a screen.

Create Activity

In virtual meetings, one’s ability to focus is tested. We have a slew of distractions. Emails, social media, other pressing tasks. We want to keep our attendees focused on the meeting. To keep them involved, we should go no more than 5 minutes in a meeting without giving them something to do or think about. Broad open questions, smaller group brainstorming, or deep discussion are great ways to keep attendees present and accounted for.

As we shift towards virtual interaction becoming the norm, by doing the above, we can humanise the experience as much as possible. Elevate our digital meetings into human connections.

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