With so many offices closed, a lot of us are finding ourselves working with a laptop at our dining tables or if we’re lucky, working from a home office. While we’ve upped the comfort stakes (hello ugg boots and trackpants), we’re all being challenged to develop a very specific set of skills to succeed in our day-to-day video calls. We need to communicate clearly and show empathy, while still remaining authoritative and friendly. Running and participating in meetings in person is very different to running and participating in them online, and there are some techniques you need to know to ensure you can both influence others and impact the conversation as well.
To help us navigate this, in a recent Masterclass we called upon our favourite presentation expert, Shelly Horton, to unlock all her secrets about how we can all communicate more effectively and confidently. Shelly Horton is a journalist, TV presenter, and emcee and also runs her own company, ShellShocked Media where she teaches presentation skills and media training, all designed to help boost your confidence. Thanks to our friends at BOSS FRAGRANCES, we’ve rounded up Shelly’s lessons on working from home and nailing video calls.
Before you nail video calls, you need to set the scene
- Have a dedicated space for working at home. Even if it’s just a desk in the corner of the living room, an allocated space will help you maintain productivity and switch between work and personal life more efficiently.
- Try standing up for your virtual meetings, your energy will automatically lift.
- Position yourself near natural light. Watching the weather and day pass by is good for your mood and efficiency.
- Decorate your workspace with your favourite things. Think a framed photo, a perfume (we’re loving BOSS ALIVE) or your favourite hand cream. You want to create an inviting space that is a pleasure to work from.
Setting up for video calls
- Position your camera just above eye level. You’ll be framed in the most flattering position.
- Tidy up your background. Video calls are an invitation into your home, so consider adding an interesting or stylish background behind you. A plant or picture for the wall will instantly lift your set up, or perhaps position yourself in front of a bookshelf, Business Chicks Masterclass style
- Natural light is your friend! Position yourself looking towards a window with your computer facing you. Although a window behind you may be pleasing aesthetically, the light will not be optimal for video calls.
Preparation is key!
- Wake your face up and loosen your tongue and mouth to avoid getting tongue tied when it’s time for you to share a powerful thought. Repetitive facial exercises like opening your mouth wide and closing it tight and blowing raspberries are quick and easy ways to be on from the moment the call starts.
- Bust any nerves with a few simple breathing exercises. Sit or stand up straight to engage your core and loudly breathe in through your nose and out your mouth for a few inhalations. Take note of how calm and focused you feel afterwards, the yogis follow this practice for a reason!
- Think about your posture – keep your shoulders back, sit or stand up tall (no slouching!) and have both feet placed on the ground hip-width apart.
- If in doubt, remember Shelly’s mantra – Prior Preparation Prevents Piss-poor Performance
Running a meeting with confidence
- If you’re presenting for a long period, consider putting a post-it note on your screen as a reminder of where your camera is. It can be so tempting to watch yourself present, and this will keep you focused and engaging for your audience.
- When presenting, ensure everyone else on the call is on mute. This is not a regular in-person meeting when interruptions may be welcomed. Tech issues will come into play if everyone’s speakers are on.
- Set an agenda and stick to it.
- Break the ice! If you’ve never met your meeting attendees, make sure to allow time for introductions prior to getting started.
- A quick meeting is a good meeting, and regardless of your situation everyone is looking for more time back in their day. Two thirty minute meetings are far more productive than one hour-long meeting.
Running a meeting as a team manager
- Consider kicking the meeting off with a mental health check. Ask your team to number their mental health out of ten, and keep note of any stand-out responses. Alternately, set up a buddy system to ensure your people are checking in on each other when they meet.
- Manage outcomes not activity. We are all facing unique personal and family pressures during this unusual time, so be considerate of people’s time and schedule when planning video calls. As Shelly said, “it’s about kicking the goals, not being in a state of play the whole time.”
Help! I’m feeling emotional and teary and need to present on a call
- Practice the yoga breathing techniques described above to centre yourself.
- What would you say to your best friend if they were in the same situation? Channel that positivity and kindness to yourself!
- If all else fails, do some maths in your head. It will force you to shift focus to the analytical side of your brain.
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