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Becoming a Virtual Meeting Expert!

Last month Lean In D.C. held a virtual professional development training on becoming a successful presenter in a virtual medium. We partnered with a local, woman-owned company, Spoken with Authority, to hold the event. This event equipped participants with the tools needed to become successful presenters in a virtual world.

For a decade, Spoken with Authority has helped thousands of professionals — from emerging talent to seasoned leaders — elevate their presence and expand their influence and promote inclusion in organizations. Christine Clapp, President, and Michelle Morrissey, Facilitator and Coach, led this training event.

Due to the pandemic, most of our professional (and social interactions) will be happening virtually, for a lot longer than any of us initially imagined. This event provided a perfect opportunity to brush up critical skills and learn new tips to be an effective virtual presenter and facilitator. Needless to say, this event appealed to our network and we even had many join from other Lean In networks across the globe.

Here are our takeaways:

Developing Your Meeting Content and Agendas

  • Attention spans are short, plus Zoom fatigue. Keep your meetings short and too the point. One tip is to try shortening the length of your meetings. For instance, take a 30 minute meeting down to 20 minutes, 60 minutes to 50 minutes, etc.

  • If you are a facilitator, try focusing on one meeting goal. Share rules of engagement and expectations at the beginning of the call to set the tone. Prepare ahead of time about how you want to bring up information, insights you wish to provide (put posted notes around your screen) and structure your response.

  • Huge meetings can be overwhelming. Try a smaller, more intimate meeting. Smaller meetings allow for greater inclusivity and encourage brainstorming and discussion.

  • Delegate your agenda and set aside parts of the meeting for others to lead! This way everyone’s voice is heard!

  • Remember to practice, practice!

  • If you are a participant, think about your goal for why you're participating- your agenda.

  • Pro Tip: Turn your camera on to keep yourself accountable.

Making sure your Technology is ready

  • Think about ways to secure your meetings. Something you can do is monitor the chat box during the meeting (remove anything posted that may be inappropriate), prohibit others from sharing screens/files, and use passwords.

  • Share any files ahead of time, so those joining can review before joining. Have visuals! During the meeting, you can certainly still share links to disseminate more info.

  • Use the platform's interactive tools (Zoom whiteboard, break out rooms, rename option). This gets participants involved!

  • Before the meeting, do practice sessions and make sure all equipment is working properly.

  • To optimize your speed, hardwire your internet, plug in your power to have a full battery, and close other applications on your desktop.

  • Invest in earbuds or headset for high-quality audio, mute yourself to deal with background noise, and unmute when you speak. Clear your video camera lens! Or you can use apps like "EpocCam" to turn your phone into an external camera.

  • Turn off notifications for email or texts and set it to do not disturb.

  • Make sure your camera is at eye-level. Videos look best when well lit! If you don't have a lot of natural lighting in your space, consider investing in a Light Ring. Become your own #influencer.

Conduct (physical setting, posture and speaking style)

  • Curate your background! This is a representation of you as much as your clothing is. Make sure that you are the focus and that clutter is to a minimum.

  • Use a firm chair can help with good posture and flow of oxygen through our body.

  • Dress the way you want to be addressed. The way we dress impacts how we feel and relate to the world.

  • Avoid distractions the best you can. (some external noise is out of our hands' ex. construction/ambulance). It's not about the fact that it happened but how you handle it (ex. Ask your audience to give yourself a minute to figure things out).

  • Check your posture and presentation. Make sure you look comfortable. This might be the only time we encourage women to smile :). Of course only if you want to.

  • Make sure you're pausing in between your phrases and sentences to slow down. Filler words (and, as I said, again, you know) can distract your audience from the actual content.

To use Spoken with Authority as a resource along with presentation skills and leadership journey, please check out all their services directly on the website at Follow them on LinkedIn and even sign up for their newsletter!

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