This is the third of four short articles highlighting the differences from in-person body language and body language when using a virtual platform.
Distractions during a virtual meeting are inevitable, but there are many steps you can take to minimize them.
The first rule is to keep yourself on mute when you are not actually talking. That way, if the phone rings or the dog barks, the other people in the meeting will not be aware, and you will not have caused an interruption.
If you are participating from home, let other people in your house know you are having a meeting or have some kind of signal so other people do not inadvertently cause an interruption. In our home, we shut the door to our office as a signal we are busy and do not want to be disturbed.
Try to anticipate your needs for the meeting time. Go to the bathroom, if possible, before starting a meeting and make sure you have some water or coffee available so you do not need to get up and leave the room.
Have any props you want to use at hand so you don’t have to go off camera to hunt them down during the meeting.
Plan to arrive at the meeting 5-10 minutes early so you can deal with any technical challenges from your end before the meeting starts.
It is unfair to others to arrive 5 minutes late and then have a problem getting your microphone to work properly. Check things out yourself before the meeting starts.
If you have a camera, it is best to use it unless bandwidth is a problem. Some people would rather not show their face because they might be having a bad hair day.
Keep in mind that when people cannot see your face at all, it is rather like a conference call for them. You may have the advantage of being able to see the other faces, but they cannot see you.
Make sure you allow roughly equal air time for all participants if it is a meeting format. Don’t forget to include people who are phoning in. Just because you cannot see their faces does not mean you can ignore them.
A webinar format usually implies that the person or panel in charge will be doing most of the communicating. Just be sensitive to the need for others to have adequate airtime and don’t monopolize the conversation.
A huge distraction for any meeting is a phenomenon called a “Zoom Bomb.” This is where someone who is not part of the meeting breaks into the format and puts up some obscene or hurtful information.
I have experienced this, and it is completely disruptive to the meeting. It literally sickened me.
Zoom has done a good job of providing tools to prevent a meeting from being bombed. They are a little more cumbersome than to operate without the tools, but they are well worth using because of the magnitude of the hurt a bomb can cause.
Here is a list of the tools available at this time.
1. Have people register for the meeting, so you know who to expect. 2. Always use a system generated meeting address and a password. You can select any password you wish. 3. Enable the “waiting room” feature so that people do not enter the meeting without the host giving them access. 4. Disallow screen share for all participants to start out, You can enable all to share the screen once the meeting is locked. 5. Once people have all arrived, lock the meeting. This will prevent anyone else from entering. 6. The host or co-host can dismiss any disruptive person, so be prepared to use that feature if need be. 7. Keep your software up to date.
If you use care, the meeting disruptions will be minimal. The few that do happen will be cause for laughter rather than frustration.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”
In my speaking, consulting, and teaching activities, I use magic illusions to create zest for the topics being discussed. People enjoy the mental break from content to some kind of visual stimulus. In every four hour block of content, I always include at least one illusion. Then I can get back to the content with a fresh audience with clear heads and full attention. The tricks are professional purchased bits of technology that fit the topic being discussed.
For example, when discussing trust, I have an illusion where I put a nickel that has been marked by an observer in a small enclosed wooden box and let people verify it is in there. Then I set the box down and do not touch it again. Immediately, I produce a smaller wooden box with a lock on it and set it beside the box with the nickel in it. We can verify that the nickel is still in the original box, if desired. Then, without touching either box, I dangle a set of keys over both boxes in sequence while saying, “remember, the key to obtaining better performance is trust. Now I am going to reverse the location of the nickel by just dangling the keys over both boxes, remember that trust is the key.” Without touching either box, I hand the keys to an observer who opens the locked box to reveal the marked nickel. Stunned, the observer will immediately grab the original box and open it to reveal that the nickel is indeed gone. I explain the link to trust is that I have to trust my system to always work perfectly or the illusion will not work. Trust always involves risk, and I take a risk every time I do an illusion that it will not work or that the method will be detected.
Illusions help spice up any presentation because they create a mystery as to how the trick is done. Of course, like all magicians, I do not reveal how it is done, only leave people to puzzle over it. They know what we started with, and they can clearly see what we have at the end. They can also inspect the physical props to verify they are genuine. It is the process in the middle that provides the magic. This is similar to numerous processes in the work environment. The magic is in the process, and if we know our process well, then seemingly impossible things can happen on a regular basis.
For any organization, the magic that creates better performance is always based on trust. Where trust is low or missing, any organization will sputter and fume, but not run smoothly. When an organization decides to become serious about creating the benefits of high trust, it is exactly the same magic as some of the illusions. Something happens, and the outcome is totally different from what is expected, and it is a wonderful surprise.
There are many groups and individuals who help organizations move toward a culture of higher trust. I am one of them. My suggestion, if you are having problems meeting the ever-growing list of goals for performance, is to engage with a practitioner in your part of the world and have him or her describe the track record for the kind of trust enhancement work he or she does. It is invariably a profitable investment.
A tip for presenters:
I recommend the use of magic to all professional presenters who want to get future bookings. The process involves building up a supply of numerous illusions, so you have one that can fit most circumstances. Then you just select the correct illusion for a particular program and use it.
Most cities have a magic shop with many of the common tricks, but I use a specialty shop that is run by a professional magician. He has access to the little known and more baffling illusions. Of course, these tricks are expensive, in some cases, so you need to build up your stock over several years. I now have over 40 great illusions that I take care of and use regularly in my programs. They really help spice up my programs.