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Business advice: How to best present yourself when taking part in an online meeting or webinar

15 Sep 2020

Like it or not, we’ve all had to get used to online business meetings over the last few months.

I’ve joined a huge number of online meetings during this period, and in this article I’m going to outline five key pieces of advice so you can make your next meeting easier and more enjoyable, especially as it is looking likely we will be taking part in a lot more virtual meetings while social distancing messures continue.

  1. Preparation is key

    The best piece of advice I can give you is to prepare for your Zoom/online meeting as if you were meeting face-to-face.

    Plan what you are going to say and have bullet points to hand in the order you’re going to say them. A stopwatch is also useful, especially if you are hosting a webinar.

    Be confident with the tech before you start, so make sure your platform is up-to-date and if it’s your first time, do a trial run beforehand.

  2. Surroundings matter

    Set up your laptop in natural light so that others can see you more easily.

    A plain background is best. I would advise against the stock backgrounds provided by Zoom for example– they can be distracting. A banner works well or even a blank wall. Or you could play the book shelf top trumps game… Books shelves seem to be popular on the news at the moment when they are interviewing people, mine would be full of books for my 4yr old or the Harry Potter series!

    Finally, find somewhere quiet to carry out your meeting, but don’t worry too much about inevitable household noise like your kids interrupting you. People will understand.

  3. Maintain a professional appearance

    Be conscious of what you are wearing and how you look – be sure to check your appearance before you go on camera and make sure you look professional.

    While you don’t necessarily need to power dress for a virtual meeting, it helps to look presentable.

  4. Be camera and microphone savvy

    Position the camera on your laptop at eye level and make sure you’re looking into the camera itself when you’re speaking, tempting though it is to check how you look on screen.

    Be sure that your video is switched on and know how to turn your microphone on and off. It sounds basic, but these small things can make a difference to the success of the meeting.

  5. Be engaging

    You may be behind a screen, but it’s still important to engage. Smiling (without looking cheesy!) is the easiest way to do this.

    Speak clearly and distinctly, make sure you can be seen and maintain eye contact with the camera.

    If you want to make notes say so, otherwise if you have your head down it will just look like you’re focusing on something else.

    Don’t be afraid to use your hands – it’s difficult to show your personality in a virtual meeting so anything that allows you to express yourself is helpful.

    If it’s a meeting with no video, be vigilant about how you come across. You won’t be able to gauge people’s expressions so you need to know when to stop talking!

  6. And be kind...

    One of my key pieces of advice for entrepreneurs is that it costs nothing to put people at ease. There will be others who are nervous, so don’t hold back on telling people when they’ve made a good point or even message them afterwards to show your appreciation.

Alex Mitchell, IoD99
Find Alex on Twitter: @AlexDEMitchell

Please note, this content is not produced by the IoD and therefore does not necessarily represent the views or thoughts of the organisation.

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