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How to Make the Best Impression When Meeting Virtually


By Hector Cisneros
Courtesy of WorkingTheWebToWin.com


The COVID 19 pandemic has permanently changed the way we will be doing business. Prior to COVID 19, we engaged in lots of face to face marketing along with TV, radio, print, and of course internet marketing. The pandemic with its government mandates and the fear of getting sick now governs how we meet. The Word ZOOM and phrase "virtual meeting" are now household terms, (even though online & phone conferencing has been around for many years). Today, if you're not using ZOOM, (or another virtual meeting product like Google Meet, Microsoft Team, or Goto Meeting), you're hardly meeting anyone at all. Today, virtual meeting applications like ZOOM are more important than ever. In many cases, it's your one shot to impress a prospect or  client and build the trust you need to move to the next level in the sales process. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, I will explore the best way to make a great impression. I'll discuss proper techniques, the basic tools you will be using, and most importantly, the proper etiquette that will make you look good in the prospect's eyes.  So get out a pad and pencil and get ready to take notes as I show you how to make the best impression using your virtual meeting software.
The COVID pandemic has elevated the importance of the internet to the highest status of all of our communications mediums. In fact, it has made many companies aware of how inadequate their web presence is. How do we know this? Because their lead funnels have dried up. Many of their leads were coming in from direct face to face sales and now they are scrambling to implement virtual meeting software. It also means that potential clients are evaluating companies based on their web presence more than ever before. so which product do you use to make a great impression? Let's look at some of the choices.

Which Virtual Software is Best - Let start by putting to rest which virtual meeting software you need to use. There are literally dozens of these types of applications on the market. I have used most of them, including;  ZOOM, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Goto Meeting, Skype, Facetime, Slack, WebEx, and many others. My current goto virtual meeting application is ZOOM, although I also use Microsoft Teams with clients who are die-hard Microsoft advocates. Your company may dictate which product you use. If price is an issue, there are free alternatives with fewer features. If the meeting you're attending is not your own, the decision is made for you. Make sure you brush up on the application you will be using at the meeting you're going to host or attend. The logistical and etiquette information in this article will pertain to all such applications regardless of manufacturer. However, any specific commands mentioned will be specific to ZOOM

Making You Look Good - In order to look good on any virtual meeting application, there are several technical factors that you need to get right. There are also, etiquette and logistical considerations you have to account for, (mentioned later in this article). Not understanding or taking into account the following three factors of teleconferencing can make you look bad. Let's start with technical considerations. If your equipment is not adequate or set up properly, you will look bad. This can happen even though both your information and presentation are perfect for the prospect. For example, it's very important that you have a strong high-speed internet connection, regardless of whether it's a hardwired office LAN or a cell phone connection. If your connection is slow or poor, your information, images, and voice will be delivered in poor quality, thus making you look incompetent and or technically inept. Also having a high-speed connection makes it much easier to control the virtual meeting software commands and capabilities. You won't be guessing if what you're trying to do is working, because the feedback will be close to instantaneous.

Make Sure Your Equipment is Up to Snuff - Along these same lines, it's important to have a good microphone and video camera on your choice of digital meeting device. Most laptop computers built in the last two years have great built-in mic and cameras unless you purchase an ultra-cheap computer. Price is not the issue, either. I have a medium-priced Acer laptop with a built-in mic and camera and both are good enough to conduct live streams to Facebook, YouTube, and ZOOM. If your camera is of poor quality, your image will be fuzzy, may blur, or leave ghostly trails and this will make you look bad. The solution can be as simple as going to Best Buy or Amazon and buying a Logitech C920s webcam for $70 and using it as your main web camera. This camera also has an excellent microphone as well, so it is a twofer for solving virtual meeting hardware problems.  Needless to say, your audio and video need to work flawlessly to make you look good. If your production quality is poor, no amount of great information is going to make you look good. Also, it is important to note that this is also highly codependent on your internet speed.

Some More Details - A good camera should provide a picture resolution of at least 720p. 
good lens will produce a bright image in normal light and a good microphone needs to provide clear sound without distortion. You can test your camera and mic to see how they compare to your friends and cohorts to get an idea of image and sound quality. Do a test meeting with a friend. It is always a good idea to test these devices and your connection speed prior to any virtual meeting you're attending. Never assume things are working right. Test, test, and test.  The your credibility depends on it.

Know Your Stuff - Next, let's talk about application competency. A fast way to make yourself look bad is to have a poor understanding of the functional capabilities of your virtual meeting software. You need to take the time to learn the basics of any virtual application system. Many of these applications are rather intuitive, but in most cases, you need to familiarize yourself with items like adding your name to your window, turning on and off the camera, muting and unmuting the mic, using the chat function, screen sharing, and controlling other aspects of a virtual meeting. One of the reasons I like ZOOM is because it is easy to learn. ZOOM also provides many online videos to learn its functions. Other competing applications also provide this as well to some extent.

Attending to the Logistics - Now for some tips when attending and running a meeting. First of all, you should log in early to test your connection speed, camera and mic.  Leave your camera and audio off until a few minutes (say 5 minutes) before the meeting starts. If you have a virtual background that includes titling, you have to set up a mirror image (this is usually done in the camera setting) so that your viewers can read the message. Most cameras flip the images around which in turn makes your titling look backward if you don't use the flip function. Test this in advance as well. If you are using a smartphone, make sure you have a strong 4G connection, if not - you may want to turn off the video.  If you find you have a weak or slow internet connection or mediocre equipment, turn off your camera so that your image is not being transmitted. This will improve your audio but obviously, this is not recommended for presentations. This works OK when attending a virtual networking meeting, but remember it is far from your ideal situation and does not portray you in a positive light. 

Some Final Do's and Don'ts - During the meeting, have a goal and a game plan, don't just
wing it. Be prepared to take notes, ask questions, and be ready to answer them as well. If you're attending a network meeting like the Chamber or BNI, stick to the rules of the organization. If you get 60 seconds to speak, don't go long, or end too soon. Speak clearly, be practiced and ready. When you aren't speaking, be attentive and engaged, don't  eat food, get up, work on other projects, or do other things. Doing something else other than attending the meeting will give the impression that others are not important to you. Also, if you had your camera on while you spoke and then turned it off, this sends a signal that you have other things to do than pay attention to the members at the meeting. Having said that,  if you have to do something else (like go get coffee or to use the restroom), simply jot a note in the chatbox if that is appropriate for your venue. ZOOM actually has a coffee break icon that can be displayed when you must get a caffeine fix. Finally, if you turn the camera off, make your break short. The only legitimate reason to turn your camera off is that you are having connection speed or other technical issues, or you're driving. If you're driving, make sure the camera is off and use Bluetooth for listening. Let people know your limitations and that you can't fully engage in the meeting but you are there to learn and listen to their needs. In all honesty, if you're driving, you're not engaged in the meeting and this does not add to your credibility!

Background Noise is Not Your Friend - Speaking of other issues I often see (and in some instances hear) lots of background noise. Whether its kids playing in the background, your dog or cat making noise, or the lawn service cutting the grass, background noise never makes you look or sound good! If you're reading your presentation, try to avoid shuffling your papers, it makes a lot of noise. Along these same lines is the issue of not being in control of the mute button. If it's not your turn to speak or you're not in charge of the meeting, your mic should be muted. Conversely, if it's your turn to speak, or you're next to speak, make sure your mic is on so people don't see your lips moving without any sound. That just looks foolish. If your camera is not on and it's your turn to speak and the attendees hear crickets (no video and no sound), you get two strikes against you. .

And finally - Don't be late - log in early and turn off the video and sound. Also don't leave early either since 
that also makes you look bad. Don't make wisecracks or inappropriate jokes and never use curse words during a meeting. Don't use slang, acronyms, or words that most people never use unless they are a normal part of your group's regular vocabulary. You never want to appear as if you are talking down to your audience. Stay positive and avoid any negative self-talk and self-deprecation, it's just unnecessary. 

In conclusion:  Mastering your virtual meeting software and having an excellent web presence will help you survive many types of disasters. In can be the difference between surviving and staying profitable during a pandemic like COVID-19. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic will change marketing preferences forever.  There are many good virtual meeting products on the market. My preference is the paid version of ZOOM but I also use Microsoft's Team software. On top of that, you have to have a good web presence for prospects to evaluate your business, and for virtual meetings you need to use good equipment, have a great internet connection, good internet speed, and be competent in using virtual meeting software.  

You have to remember that a virtual meeting is still a meeting! Your actions, mannerisms, words and presentation affect your credibility and success. You will not reach any goal if what you do online makes you look bad, ill-prepared, or incompetent! Take the time to test your equipment before each meeting. Be prepared, have a plan, and do your best to make yourself and your company look good. I know that no one tries to make themselves look bad, but I still see it happen often. I cringe when I see a person carelessly make mistakes which costs them credibility and more often than not, business! No one buys or gives a referral to someone they deem ill-prepared,  incompetent, or inconsiderate. Heed these tips and take your virtual meeting to the next level of success! See you at the next virtual meeting.

That's my opinion; I look forward to hearing yours'.

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This article provides more than a dozen ways to make your next virtual meeting a big success. It further provides businesses with tips and tricks that build credibility and always lead to a better virtual meeting. The article further provides links to other relevant web pages to help an entrepreneur achieve a complete understanding of what is needed for success. Lastly, this article also offers a FREE ebook to help companies make wise decisions with regard to their digital marketing. Lastly, this article also provides a link to our BlogTalkRadio show as well.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also the co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success” and the co-author along with his business partner Carl Weiss of their hit book also called “Working the Web to Win.”


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