Publications

- September 1, 2020: Vol. 7, Number 8

How to nail your virtual meeting and avoid ‘Zoom-out’

by Steve Rokoszewski

We’ve all seen the blooper videos of the gentleman with boxer shorts unintentionally shown on his Zoom meeting call, the dog barking incessantly in the background, the poor woman who is unmuted while in the restroom. Maybe you’ve been there (hopefully not), but one thing is for certain — virtual meetings are not going away any time soon. What was once thought as a supplement for an individual unable to attend a larger group or corporate meeting is now commonplace and you better be on your “A” game in order to succeed in the new age of digital meetings.

Looking at one particular industry, financial services, what was once a solely face-to-face business is seeing a halt in travel, causing a panic and forcing professionals to find new ways to market their product or services via Zoom. Maybe you are the top producer in your area, you compose the best dinner meetings, play one hell of a golf game or you’re just that person who could sell ice to an Eskimo. Well, Top Producer, you have to figure out how to swim or you will be an iron ball sinking to the depths of the ocean.

Let’s break down the do’s and don’ts to make your next Zoom meeting a raving success by focusing on a few best practices.

Check your surroundings. Do you have five empty coffee cups on your desk? An unmade bed with laundry piled on top? Remember, you are being judged by your unkempt surroundings, so clean up. Think Marie Kondo — if it isn’t pleasing to others, ditch it. Also, for your Zoom background, don’t choose the giant margarita glass or other completely irrelevant backdrops. In the words of Ron Burgundy, “keep it classy, San Diego.”

Yes, we can hear you!  Stop screaming into your laptop. Just because you are not physically with others in a meeting doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. There is nothing more annoying than the group loudmouth.

To piggy-back from the previous point, invest in some decent headphones (or earbuds … or whatever the kids are calling them) and please, for the sake of others, have a trial run of your microphone, checking for outside noise and ensuring proper functioning.

Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you don’t need to appear as if you are in a physical meeting. Ironed shirts for the gentlemen and blouses and dresses for the ladies. Remember, work attire (at least from the waist up).

And the most important:

Do not be late for your Zoom meeting.  You have no excuse. You’re in your own basement. Traffic, a long line at Starbucks, or car trouble won’t fly as excuses at this time. Promptness is a must.

Zoom fatigue, yes. Nearly six months have passed since social distancing measures first came into play; you have a ton more grey hairs, your desk chair looks like it was sitting curbside with a “free” sign attached, and your headphones are just about permanently attached to your head. These months have seemed like an eternity, and we are likely looking at many more. So, Top Producer, keep being creative, incorporating thoughtful gestures, and finding new ways to connect with your audience, giving them a reason to click on that next scheduled virtual meeting with you.

FOUR TIPS FOR NEXT-LEVEL ZOOMING

  1. Come with an opening, if you are a comedian, go for it, but that’s not for everyone. Prepare yourself with a well thought-out, relevant and polite opening to connect with your audience and break the ice.
  2. So you have already had a Zoom call with a respective client, why would they want to have another? You need a hook. Something to grab their attention, gain their interest. How about before you begin your presentation that you would have originally scheduled for that fancy steakhouse, you schedule a Taco Tuesday where you send a taco lunch from a fantastic local taqueria to arrive at their place immediately before your meeting? Maybe host a virtual wine tasting by sending along some wines from your favorite winery, or from that vacation destination you know they had to cancel this summer.
  3. Include lots of interaction in your meeting. No, we are not talking a competitive game of Uno, but make your presentation collaborative. Ask questions, take a poll, have some trivia. You can’t physically check their pulse to make sure they are still awake and listening, but you can keep them engaged with more back-and-forth discussion as opposed to your long-winded presentation spiel.
  4. You need to look alive! Sitting too long is not good for anybody, and your meeting attendees can tell if your energy is low, even if they’re only seeing it from the other side of a screen. Get up, stand up, put your laptop on a table, your counter, or a bookshelf. Standing up instead of sitting keeps the blood flowing and the energy level high.

 

Steve Rokoszewski is co-founder and president of Anchor Advisory Services.

 

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