Because you're invisible doesn't mean you’re invisible

| By Vivien Hudson

So you attend your virtual meeting. You come prepared to multi task and to wait for your turn to talk. You sit back while everyone says their share, until it comes to your turn. You say your piece then the meeting moves to the next person. The meeting concludes. Sound familiar? Was that time well spent?

You are conducting a virtual presentation. You spend the best part of an hour, doing all the talking while sitting back in your chair. You pause at the end and ask for questions. Sound familiar? Was that time well spent?

You are conducting a virtual training and you side saddle as you handle a few technical glitches and manage to hang in there as you surf through the content. Sound familiar? Was that time well spent?

Any of these events could go well or go pear shaped. What is the difference? 

virtual working

The difference lies in our willingness to embrace the virtual world as if we were face to face.  How much planning, preparation and energy do you put into a face to face training? What about a one hour presentation or report back at the weekly meeting?  

Chances are, some of what holds you back from being effective in the realm of the virtual space is multifaceted. It can include a lack of familiarity with the technology or the people. A lack of confidence in what we have to say and how we say it. It could be the way the event is structured or the challenge of making direct eye contact. 

There is no single answer, but rather a web of knowledge, considerations and an intention to be successful. 

To move some steps forward in gaining competency in the virtual realm, there are three areas that will accelerate your ability to engage virtually. 

Assessing the cringe factor

Many of us hate to listen to ourselves talk, let alone see ourselves in action on video. It just makes you cringe right?

Purposeful practice in how you show up means getting comfortable virtually. This starts with getting uncomfortable.  Taking time to practice will reap rewards in your ability to connect, influence and lead. This includes recording yourself alone, listening to recorded teleconferences and webinars where you spoke, and be willing to identify what you did well and what needs improving. Try recording an extra animated version of yourself and using different vocal tones. What works? What does not? Look and listen to what others are doing and experiment with their best practices.

Who are you talking to?

Hold at the front of your mind the thought that your webcam, microphone or computer become the connection to your audience. Does that shift the way you show up? Remember there is flesh and blood on the other end of your voice. Visualise that you are present with the audience. The power of our mind in visualisation has been repeatedly shown to be effective as it acts like a mental rehearsal. 

Embrace the awkwardness

Learning anything new or in a different way can feel awkward. If you are willing to experiment through the challenges of learning the technology and getting out of your own way, you will quickly see how you can better engage in a virtual sense. Have fun learning and be willing to laugh at yourself.  Permit yourself to try, even if you don't yet feel like a pro!

If only we could go all back in time and rerecord those first attempts....

Remember, if we are going to use our time to be virtually present then don't waste that time by dividing your attention and multi tasking. Learn to be more effective virtually because the benefits will shine through in your leadership, in learning transfer and engagement. You might just find that you are not as invisible as you feel!

Author: Vivien Hudson

Vivien fell into the virtual world around the time she moved from Australia to the US in 2013. She has a diverse past from working in healthcare as a pharmacist and business owner to sales, coaching and brain fitness. She has led a national remote team and now works with Virtual Gurus developing virtual mastery and presence.  

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family of 3 kids, nature where she can unplug, cooking and reading anything that relates to EQ, connection and self-leadership.

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