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With Virtual Video Meetings: Everyone is in the Front Row!

Updated: Jun 8

Virtual Meeting

Accept It.  –  Understand It. Make It Work!

It will be a while, perhaps a long while, before audiences gather in large auditoriums to see and hear a speaker. Now, we meet “virtually.” A different mindset and new skills are needed for attending, participating in, or leading one of these events.

In a conventional presentation, the audience is seated in front of the speaker, listening to and looking at them. They see the stage, lectern, slide show and – the back of the heads of others in the audience.

With Virtual Video Meetings: Everyone is in the front row! Everyone can look at you! You can look at everyone.

This type of meeting dramatically changes the dynamics of communication.

A good speaker is always “taking the temperature of their audience.” They are the only person talking, but continually observe and evaluate facial expressions and body language for feedback. Example: If someone has a confused expression on their face, it signals they are not GETTING IT! and a good speaker will restate that point in a different manner.

In virtual video meetings, every participant is, periodically, “taking every other person’s temperature.”

Facial expressions and other body language: leaning in, shrugging shoulders, slumping in a chair, and others can reinforce or devalue points you and others are communicating.

There are things participants need to do to make and receive the greatest value from these events.

Here is a Checklist for Video Meetings / Conferences / Events.

  1. If you have a VPN, turn it off.

    1. A Virtual Private Network extends a private network across a public network. Many use it for on-line security. However, it can dramatically slow down network speeds, essential to good virtual meetings.

  2. Turn off your phones, mobile, and if you have one, land line.

    1. They can become distractions in any meeting, including virtual ones.

  3. Turn off email, chat, alarms, and any other computer alerts that might interrupt the meeting.

  4. Close windows and doors to your meeting room.

  5. Keep pets and others out.

  6. Treat this like your private office during the meeting.

  7. Your appearance is important!

    1. Now, it’s like your high school graduation picture or Facebook / LinkedIn headshot.

      1. The audience usually just sees you mid-chest and up.

    2. Keep it Clean and Simple!

    3. When it comes to presentations, and that includes attendance and participation in virtual meetings, non-verbal communication surpasses verbal communication. People believe what they see.

    4. No bling, wild print shirts, ties, scarfs, etc.

      1. They are distractions to your talk.

    5. Again, clean and simple rule!

      1. Think: Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

    6. Sometimes, it is part of your Brand!

      1. Clothing colors, glasses, and hair style can be part of that ‘look.’

        1. Think: Johnny Cash, Colonel Sanders, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper.


    1. Remember non-verbal communication surpasses verbal communication.

      1. Your eyes tell a lot!

        1. People are watching to see where you are watching.

        2. Looking down, out the window, or at a cell phone tell others you’re not fully engaged.

    2. Of equal importance is this fact: Communication is voluntary and involuntary. i.e. If you unconsciously roll your eyes when you hear or see something you don’t agree with, that is what others will believe as your view. This holds true for raising eyebrows, smirking, shrugging shoulders, and other non-verbal communication.

  9. Lighting is a key element in looking good.

    1. You want to look good!

    2. Incorrect lighting puts you in shadows and makes it hard for others to see and read your non-verbal communication.

    3. Light rings, that come in a variety of sizes, are perfect for helping you look your best.

    4. An overly bright or dimly lit room makes it hard for others to see you.

    5. Glasses, because they reflect light, can be a challenge.

    6. Dimming your screen, adjusting the angle of the halo ring or other light, and angle of the camera can lessen the reflection and distraction it might cause.

  10. Backgrounds.

    1. Just as your appearance should be clean and simple, so should your background.

    2. Cluttered shelves, wild wallpaper, and other visible items are distracting.

    3. Zoom offers virtual backgrounds that can be customized.

    4. A green screen behind you will make them works best, although some computers do a ‘good enough’ job.

    5. Watch television interviews and you’ll quickly see what backgrounds allow the speaker to ‘stand out.’

      1. Several shades of dark blue, with subtle designs, work well.

      2. Slightly blurring them, if possible, emphasizes the speaker.

  11. Sound.

    1. “People will watch bad video, but won’t listen to poor audio.”

    2. Often, the built-in microphone on your computer will work fine for virtual meetings. Sometimes it doesn’t and alternatives are needed.

    3. Purchasing a good condenser mic is worthwhile if you’ll be attending many virtual events and can be used for your own podcasting.

  12. Camera.

    1. Today’s computers, cell phones, and iPads have excellent cameras.

    2. An HD webcam gives flexibility and adds quality to the video.

    3. Adjust the camera or computer so it appears you are looking directly at the audience.

  13. Chat window.

    1. Be aware these can be to sent to individuals, the host, or everyone!

    2. Take a moment to review before posting.

IMPORTANT! TEST everything with a trusted friend before joining a virtual meeting.

Follow this checklist for your next virtual video meeting and I guarantee it will be absolutely, positively - NO SWEAT!

Image Credit: Ryan (Wiki Ed)


Pausing is a key component of presenting.

About the Author

Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an international coach, and the author of the books, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, andPresentation Skills.

They do this because they know:"Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities."

They also know:We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. We like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver Fantastic Presentations! with – NO SWEAT!


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