I recently joined a virtual call. The moment the host talked, I became distracted by his technical blunders. His blurred background illuminated strange colors. I wondered to myself, where is he sitting? What is he hiding? Maybe he was working from home and was uncomfortable about his background. Or, perhaps his kids or pets were walking around behind him. Either way, I didn't hear a word he said.
The moment I consciously refocused my attention on him and his words, the outline of his body started to look like a digital cutout from a bad science-fiction movie.
His camera was sitting too low, sharing an unpleasant look from an unflattering angle. I was distracted observing the terrible technical settings the whole time he spoke. Did he think through his setup? Or did he believe these factors helped him look more professional?
They didn't work.
Despite how many professionals work remotely, too many continue to show up online without knowing how they are perceived. In fact, before attending our training, less than half of the participants felt confident influencing others across multiple mediums. After being shown tools and techniques to engage virtual participants, that number doubled. 92% of remote workers admit to multitasking while attending virtual meetings. Hosts must make every effort to capture their attention and keep them engaged to keep it.
If you or your team work virtually, these three practical and immediate steps will ensure you consistently have influence.
Avoid Technical Blunders in Three Easy Steps
First, eliminate distractions. Working from home should mimic your professional office environment. Unless you work at a veterinarian's office, meandering cats and barking dogs don't belong in the workplace.
Second, stop hiding by blurring your background. The only thing this does is cause your listeners to wonder what it is you don't want them to see. Find a spot that is clear of clutter and positively impacts your brand.
Lastly, practice your delivery before it's go-time. I get it; new software and technology become available daily, but using it before learning it will cause embarrassment and cost you your influence. If you want to keep the attention on you rather than technology, spare your live audience from your learning curve.
Virtual work environments have enough challenges to overcome. Technical blunders are easy to overcome if you are willing to let your listener see and hear you.