Do you appear in online meetings as a thumbnail image, a voice or a video?
You may be any of these at different times, depending on your prevailing technical and personal circumstances. Invisibility makes it difficult for others to pick up the normal non-verbal cues associated with physical presence.
Even a video meeting is usually limited to the face and, often, non-speakers are muted which limits our ability to hear sighs, murmurs, laughter and so on.
Despite these limitations, online meetings are great for bringing geographically-separated people together and enhancing team work in many instances. And this is likely to continue post Covid.
The one thing all remote communications have in common is verbal behaviour. It gives masses of clues to people’s attitudes and can create or destroy harmony and progress towards a meeting’s objectives. It’s something people don’t usually think about but, during online meetings, it is probably the most important and manageable element. it enables participants to ‘read’ each other and adjust their verbal behaviour to bring about reciprocal change in others.
Many individuals and organisations will offer to train you in interpersonal or meeting behaviour skills. Make sure that the training is action-focused and that you will emerge with instantly applicable skills. Look for training in practical essentials, rather than exhaustive theoretical knowledge. You can always expand your knowledge later. The important thing is to learn enough to make a difference quickly.
In today’s world (and tomorrow’s too), the training itself is likely to be online and in digestible modules. Our tolerance of even the most interesting online training module is limited to about 90 minutes. Make sure it’s video-based if possible, interactive and designed for small groups or even one-to-ones. This way, you get much more of the trainer’s knowledge and insights.
A small investment of time now could make a massive difference to the speed and outcomes of your future online meetings