Pivoting to Online Collaboration? 3 Tips to Help You Stay Hinged
Only two months ago, I was that person in a Zoom meeting (yes there was Zoom before COVID-19) who would dial in, log in, and have a black screen as my image. I avoided video. I’d be one of a few who would contribute, update, and recommend without showing my face on the call.
Within four whirlwind weeks, I now show up on webcam, host online meetings, and help people show their best during webcam collaboration. Talk about a major pivot in my business! I scour and share online resources and best practices for being professional, prepared, and organized.
What I realize is that this “webcam me” took time to get comfortable with. And I have a feeling that many of you may be in the same place I was 30 days ago. Below are a few insights that will help you get comfortable in the webcam way of life. These are starting points that will give sales teams guidance when moving from selling in the field to selling from their home offices.
I don’t know Brian McCarthy, but boy has he improved my presence and appearance on video calls. During Brian’s video he reviews 12 areas to improve your online presence. Each of the recommendations are important. The three takeaways that made a big impact for me are:
- Use your hands naturally
- Look at the camera
- Dress for the occasion, just as you would face to face
Number three is important, as it is when you are meeting people face to face. Know your audience, the topic and your meeting goals. If you’re reviewing a proposal, show up in business attire. When meeting with production staff for remote support, more casual attire is appropriate.
Running a Great Online Meeting
Like any other meeting, you need to prepare. Send the agenda with objectives to participants before the meeting. Include background information that will help prepare people for the session. This will help the meeting become a discussion, not a 30-minute PowerPoint drain while people multi-task. Set clear goals for your meeting. And at the end of the meeting determine next steps, review with everyone on the call and follow-up with an email to ensure everyone is clear. Over communication is critical while we work from home.
Many of you will soon be reaching out to customers for the first time since the stay at home rules were enacted. It’s OK to talk about personal information and get reacquainted. Really listen to each person on the call. The discussion will eventually lead to what their challenges are today, and eventually, how you can support them during this time. Their issues are much different now than what they were last month and last quarter.
Practice, Practice, Practice
I assume there are people just like me who are not excited to look at their own face on webcam calls. But like so many other changes in the business environment, webcam life gets easier. Practice with your family, friends, sports club, etc. Practice with colleagues and customers that you know well. Record these meetings, play them back, and evaluate what you are doing right and what you can improve.
Building rapport is critical for business relationships and it is challenging online. Maintaining eye contact has always been a factor in establishing trust and effective communications. Look at your camera and not the screen of attendees. When you look at the camera, people feel that you are paying attention to them. When you look at the screen, your eyes are not engaged with the participants.
If you’re like me, it was frightening to turn on the webcam. Just like learning to swim, ski or riding a bike, it gets easier the more you do it.
I’d love to hear your online communication tips. Contact me for an online meeting checklist.
Kimberly Meyers is the principal at Kimberly Meyers & Associates, a marketing consulting firm. Kimberly is a Marketing VP for hire. She develops marketing solutions based on strategic assessment of her client’s business, sales and marketing requirements. She lives by the philosophy of ensuring the appropriate message and content is delivered to the target audience – always, focusing on customer needs and satisfaction. Kimberly welcomes your connection at firstname.lastname@example.org.