3 Ways to Enhance Your Virtual Communications
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with challenges beyond what we could have ever imagined. But it has also provided us with a terrific opportunity to embrace virtual communications and remote work. Whether you’re conducting a business meeting, interviewing for a job, or consulting with a doctor, here are some tips to help you make the most of your virtual communications:
1. Create a peaceful setting
- Select a quiet, comfortable, and private room for your meeting. Do what you can to keep distractions to a minimum. If needed, communicate to others that you are not to be interrupted.
- Make sure that the background is appropriate for your meeting. It should be neutral and free of clutter. Consider using a virtual background. Zoom lets you to choose from several. Or if you’re a business owner, you could have a virtual background created for you using your company logo.
- Check the lighting: the room you’re in should be well-lit, so the other party can see you clearly.
- Make sure you have the other person’s cell phone number (or another means of contacting them) so you can communicate if you are unable to establish or maintain contact on the video platform.
- Silence your phone after the meeting has begun.
- Make sure you have a pen, notepad, and anything else you might need during the meeting.
2. Check your technology ahead of time
- Make sure your audio and video are working properly. Many platforms allow you to test these prior to the meeting. If you have a problem with your audio or video, try logging off and then logging back on, or rebooting your device.
- Make sure you have a good internet connection. A hardwired Ethernet connection usually works better than Wi-Fi. If using Wi-Fi, remember that the closer you are to your router, the better your connection will be.
- Turn off all notifications. They are distracting, and you do not want them popping up if you share your screen.
- Clean up your desktop of unnecessary files and close unnecessary web browser tabs and applications.
- Become familiar with the platform you will be using, and make sure you know how to use features, such as the chat function, screen sharing, and session recording.
- Review how to mute and unmute yourself, as well as how to turn the video on and off. Consider uploading a photo of yourself that can be displayed if your video is turned off. Many platforms offer webinars, video tutorials, and blogs to help users familiarize themselves with various features.
- Consider investing in a headset with a microphone, ear buds that have a mic, or an external microphone. Such microphones tend to be better than the mic that’s built in to your computer or smartphone. A better mic will do a better job of transmitting your audio signal, which will make it easier for others to understand you.
- Also consider investing in a high-quality external camera. You will have a much better online image that will not be affected by adjustments you make to your laptop screen or desktop monitor.
- Security: As hacking has unfortunately become an issue, it’s important to be familiar with your platform’s security features. These include setting a password to enter the meeting, and using the waiting room feature to control who can enter.
3. Put your best foot forward—good advice for all your communications
- Looks count in both in-person and virtual communications. Dress to impress! Select attire that is comfortable yet professional. Present a well-groomed appearance. Remember that when you look the part, it’s easier to play the part.
- Maintain eye contact by looking directly into the camera instead of the screen, your own image, or the image of the person you’re communicating with. Adjust the position of the camera to ensure that it is capturing your face.
- Use facial expressions to show how you feel. These can elicit the emotional responses you want from others. When we smile, others are more likely to smile and feel happier too. But when we look concerned, others may become more serious. If you do not want to show your feelings, practice showing no facial expressions in front of a mirror. This is what people call “putting on a poker face.”
- Be aware of your body language. Good posture will communicate confidence, while slouching can give the impression that you are not interested. Feel free to move your upper body naturally. Lean back and lean in when participating in the discussion.
- Use your hands and arms to strengthen the points you are making. Stay far enough away from the screen for others to see your gestures.
- Be a good listener! Maintain eye contact and avoid distractions. Nodding and smiling occasionally will let the speaker know you are engaged in the conversation.
- Speak confidently and clearly. Do not mumble, and try not to speak too rapidly.
- If your English is accented, realize that an accent can make it harder for people to understand you in an online meeting. Accent reduction training can make a big difference, especially for people who are proficient in English, but still speak with a strong accent. With proper American accent training, you can reduce your accent and communicate more effectively—both online and in person.
A slight accent is unlikely to interfere with the interaction, but a stronger accent could make it harder for the other party to understand you. Accent reduction training can make a big difference, particularly for people who are proficient in the English language, but still have a heavy accent. With proper American accent training, you can modify your accent and communicate more effectively.
If you like this article you might like reading Communication Challenges in the Corona-Era – Pro Tips for Success