It’s not a virtual meeting; it’s a TV show.

You are not attending virtual meetings; you are performing on camera.

The more clients I work with the more I hear about screen exhaustion, the pressure of being constantly “on” and the time commitment, technological commitment and learning curve that comes with this new world of work. You now spend vast chunks of time in virtual meetings with staff, clients, and suppliers. There is a simple way to improve how you come across in those encounters and that is to stop thinking of these sessions as “less than optimal” meetings and instead think of them as TV shows or movie dialogue scenes.

  • For example, lighting, set design and camera angles matter. How many times have you zoomed into a meeting where several participants were clearly in witness protections, hence the strong back light and no facial visibility? Others are clearly proud of their ceiling treatment and pot lights as those are the focus of their camera angle. And then there are the distracting/embarrassing background items which may include children and pets, Amazon Prime deliveries, and the power washing neighbour.
  • Good audio matters. When I worked as a TV anchor and reporter, I had the pleasure of anchoring many election night specials, political leadership conventions and papal visits. There were several times when audio glitches created challenges from remote reporters and there were also guest commentators and the occasional anchor who forgot they were wearing a live wireless microphone when they went to the bathroom. Interestingly we see exactly the same dynamic in virtual meetings. Needless to say these faux pas don’t build your credibility, but rather distract from your important messages.
  • The script matters. We are already quite a distractible bunch and with virtual meetings where the dynamics of interaction are dampened, distraction is an even more pressing issue. Your content must be curated with the strategic outcomes in mind, be immediately relevant and comprehensible to your audience, and have a clear call to action.
  • And finally, the performance matters. You may have a fabulous script – worthy of Aaron Sorkin – but if you can’t deliver the lines with passion and conviction, the audience will immediately start thinking about, or doing, something else.

While it’s argued that broadcast television is very much on the ropes, from those glowing embers we can pull out some hot tips to light our way.

Joanna Piros