As we WFH we find we are on the phone or on virtual calls a lot more than we have been in the past. In this “for now” situation, let’s work on polishing our voice skills and what you see in the video. How? First, record one of your meetings. And, then go back and listen to recording and grade yourself and make some notes on how you can improve your online self.
1. Do you hear background noises that you didn’t know were being heard like the rattling of the shades or the sound of the fan? Adjust your work space to minimize the distractions the audience hears.
2. Does using the speakers on your headphones improve the quality and block out the nose? Or, are you using the computer speakers and you fade in and out as you lean forward and backward from your laptop or turn your head? Try to improve the sound quality for the attendees so you are clear.
3. Do you see yourself centered in the video or do the attendees get to look up your nostrils because of how the camera is angled or do you only see the top of your head? Take some time to angle the camera or lift your laptop so you are clearly in the center of the screen and look into the dot so attendees think you are looking at them.
4. My other favorite is we all get on a virtual meeting and you ask how is everyone but before you give them a chance to click unmute and respond you start saying hello? Anyone there? When you ask a question, learn to pause and count to 3 and then wait for a response. You can also ask someone specifically how they are or if they have questions or need information. They need time to move the mouse and click before they can answer so expect the delay.
5. Is your voice strained or garbled? Are you talking too fast? Take a breath between sentences and work on engaging your ab muscles so the sound is generated clearly from your abdomen and not always from your vocal cords which can get strained. Try to talk through our mouth and not through your nose. Slow the words down, and articulate. If you need a second to gather your thoughts just say to the group – I’m thinking - otherwise long pauses may be interpreted as you were put on mute or dropped off.
6. How do you handle issues? When folks drop off give them a chance to log in again. Extend patience as this happens. If people mute themselves let them know they are muted. Accept these issues as just part of the virtual process and do not get upset by it - it's not personal. Take the time to train your team on the tools and update them on the things you are hearing so they represent the entire group better when online.
7. Speak your emotions. You may be mad at the dog who just barfed in the house, but the attendees will hear the anger in your voice so smile and they will hear the smile instead. You can even say I am angry at the moment let me put a smile on. If you are confused – just say I’m confused by that last comment can you repeat, please? Or ask this - does someone else who understands can you explain to me? If you help the audience by telling them what you're feeling then you can be more authentic with them and get their responses to be more authentic as well.
It's a new world for some WFH folks and for those of us who have done it often, it's good to think about how we can improve the online experience for our attendees for more productive and enjoyable meetings.
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