With the start we’ve seen to this year, one thing is certain. 2021 is turning out to be a lot more like 2020 than the glory days of 2019. Our new normal is a schedule of Zoom calls, Teams Meetings, and WebEx sessions, and we rarely ever get to meet people face-to-face. But that doesn’t mean you get to drop the ball. Whether you’re interviewing for a new role, doing a presentation for your team, or even catching up with your boss on a video call, you need to get your game face on.
When a call goes right, it’s like the stars have aligned. You’re articulate and confident, participating in the conversation with a casual and engaging style that simply resonates with everyone on the line. You’re in the zone, you sound like an expert, and you can’t say anything wrong. You ace the interview, your performance appraisal, or whatever it is you’ve dialled in to, almost effortlessly.
The trouble is, it doesn’t always go right. I’ve seen people crash and burn, tongue-tied and unable to express with any conviction what they’re trying to say until the meeting is already done. The French have a particular word for this. L’esprit de l’escalier. It’s when you think of a witty retort or the perfect anecdote “at the bottom of the stairs,” i.e., once the meeting is well and truly over.
Now here’s the good news. Getting into the zone isn’t particularly difficult, but you do need to follow a smart approach to get there. From how you prepare to finding the right headspace, follow these tips to perform like a champion on your next video call.
Boost your energy levels. In the book “Presence,” author Amy Cuddy explains how standing a certain way can raise your energy levels as you tap into your inner superhero. All you need to do is strike and hold a powerful pose before the call, to dial-up your confidence before it starts.
Position your camera correctly. Put your computer at eye level, so your camera isn’t pointed up your nose or focused on your chin. If you’re using a laptop, a stack of books can add the height you need. I cannot tell you how many interviews I’ve sat through while only seeing half a candidate.
Clean up your space. Think about what else is visible when your camera is running, and choose a suitable virtual background (that means no beaches or Star Wars scenes), or take a few minutes to clean up the pile of dirty laundry in the corner of your room. No one needs to see that.
Dress to impress. Business calls require professional attire, but you’d be surprised how many people let this slide after months of “working from home.” Studies have shown that what your wearing can actually impact your thought process and how well you perform, so dress accordingly.
Don’t skip the small talk. Without the water-cooler chats we used to have, a little banter can help build a closer connection to the people on the call. Talk about the weather or anything you’ve got in common before the session starts. Small talk is essential, and so is a smile and good eye contact.
Get yourself prepared. Finally, be ready to go ahead of time. Keep your notes handy, as well as a pen and paper, and a glass of water to help with your nerves. Oh, and plug in your device. The last thing you want is a flat battery sending you into a last-minute frenzy as your laptop is about to die.
Working from home is no excuse for your next online meeting to fall flat. And with the way 2021 is looking, operating virtually is now the new normal. Follow these tips to get in the zone before your next video call, because you never know what opportunities await if you knock it out of the park!