Zoom has officially taken over as the most popular online meeting platform. But no matter which videoconference software you’re using, the virtual world is the most common place where meetings occur today. And in the new distributed workforce, Zoom and its competitors will remain a prominent method for engaging with others. Just like their real-world cousin (in-person meetings), online meetings are powerful vehicles for building your personal brand with people who matter. They’re also a powerful tool for besmirching your brand. If you want to avoid looking like an amateur, looking like you’re not taking the meeting seriously, or looking like you just have no interest in being there, then you need to steer clear of these 9 brand bruisers:
1. Seem like a newbie.
Amateur hour was over a long time ago. Everyone expects you to be somewhat skilled at leading or participating in online meetings. There are some basics that are not negotiable. Top among them: managing when you’re on mute; don’t lip-synch when you’re making a powerful statement, oblivious to the chorus of “Randy, you’re on mute.” We’re way past not mastering the basic features of online meeting platforms.
2. Be a flagrant self-promoter.
When you want to send a subtle message with your background, make sure you’re not overtly selling, boasting or trying to impress. That strategically placed copy of your latest book (or entire bookshelf filled with your books), collage of your diplomas or anything else you are using to try to show off is the online meeting equivalent of blatant boasting. Avoid the temptation to brag or sell through your background. It won’t send the right message. Branding your background is a good idea—just be sincere and focused on others so you don’t come off as a narcissist.
3. Think you’re in a meeting room.
When you’re on Zoom, you’re not in a physical meeting room. If you want to shine online, you need to know and understand the differences. Top among them is the fact that people are watching you on a 13” screen or on their phone. That means if you’re using slides, you need to make them small-device friendly. Punch up the font size, reduce the words and amp up the rich media.
4. Share your meeting with a blender.
The sound of a Frappuccino being made should not be the soundtrack of your contribution to a meeting. We’re all aware that the new world of work has people distributed across the company’s office tower, people’s homes and the so-called third place (such as the local coffee house). Third places are great, but not when the sound of a blender or background conversations drown out your brilliant contribution to the meeting. A simple pair of earbuds will solve this problem.
5. Be in your bedroom, kitchen or bath.
When you’re Zooming from your house, you can often control the ambient noise, but not every place in your house makes for a good set. There are three places where you should never host your meetings: your bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. They’re all really important rooms in your house. Some might argue that they’re the most important rooms, but they’re not the right rooms for your online meetings. Yet a survey by CraftJack found that 66% of respondents have worked from their beds and 37% are working in the same room as their partner. Busy hallways or high-traffic areas are just as bad. If you haven’t already, it’s time to create your go-to space for all your online meetings.
When you’re in a physical meeting room, you’re less likely to multitask out of respect for the presenter. And let’s face it, it’s really easy for people in the meeting to see what you’re doing. When you’re in a video teleconference, though, multitasking almost seems tolerated or even expected as a sign of efficiency. But don’t do it. After all, the presenter can see you (if you’re thinking, “Not if I have my camera off,” see the next item on this list). When you’re writing that email to a client while pretending to be present in the Zoom meeting, you come off as disinterested, distracted and impolite. And you do neither task very well.
7. Turn your camera off.
You can’t build your brand if you’re invisible. Enough said.
8. Melt into your background.
When you choose a virtual background from the list of options in Zoom or Microsoft Teams or Google Meet, you’re saying something about your brand. Making the circuit board your background might let people know you’re a techie, or selecting a background that’s an art gallery communicates your passion for creativity. But when you choose any of these backgrounds and you don’t have a green screen, you’re sending a different message, and it’s not one that will build your brand in a positive light. Without a green screen, the outline of your head starts to blend into your background, and it looks weird. If you’re going to use this feature, get a green screen. They’re inexpensive and portable and they’re becoming a staple of the modern workplace.
When you share your screen, choose “share a window” and not your entire screen because you can accidentally reveal that you’re shopping for a new car or watching an episode of Bridgerton on Netflix. Don’t cause your fellow Zoomers to question how you’re actually spending your workday.
The online meeting is here to stay. Avoid these credibility busters so that Zoom becomes the jet fuel to accelerate your brilliant brand.
William Arruda is a keynote speaker, author, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of the LinkedIn Profile Type Indicator (LPTI) which measures your LinkedIn profile likability and credibility.Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.
BY: William ArrudaSenior Contributor
ILLUSTRATION: Photo credit GETTY
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