6 video call blunders killing your leadership presence

6 video call blunders killing your leadership presence

6 video call blunders killing your leadership presence

In 2020, people all around the world, from the youngest school students to the most experienced company executives, were forced to adapt to a new work environment. Despite the gravity of the situation, it has made us aware of the value of working remotely. Even though we have mostly left those dark times in the past, this newfound appreciation for online communication remains, and with that come new challenges.

For the past few years, thousands of leaders across the globe have been trying to manage their teams remotely, and video conferencing has become standard in plenty of companies. Yet, many professionals continue to use this technology incorrectly, which needlessly diminishes their leadership presence.

To quote Avery Blank in a Forbes article (click here!), “If you want people to see you as a leader, you have to look like a leader.”

Most common mistakes

Zoom continues to be one of the most popular tools used for video conferencing. But whether you use Zoom, MS Teams, Skype or Google Meet, you should try to avoid making some common mistakes which immediately put your position at a disadvantage in a group call. How can you make your voice heard if your microphone is literally malfunctioning, and how can you put up a strong front if your background looks messy?

Inspired by the Forbes article, we have decided to present an expanded version of their list of the most common mistakes professionals make during online communication, starting from the ones made even before clicking “Join.”

1. Technical problems

Some technical difficulties are unforeseeable and the best thing one can do in the moment is call for someone from the IT team (if there is one available), or hopefully be knowledgeable enough to fix an issue that came about out of the blue. Now that so much of our communication has moved online, it’s imperative to obtain some degree of computer literacy that goes above just the basics. But we can also take some preventive actions:

  • create / join a test meeting 1h before the actual one
  • connect via a computer / laptop as it should be more stable (remember to plug in the laptop’s charger)
  • always have a plan B device prepared (tablet, phone)
  • make sure that our Internet connection is stable (if possible, choose cabled connection over Wi-Fi for increased stability)
  • join / be ready for the meeting with at least 5 minutes to spare

In the article, Avery Blank notes that technical difficulties are simply frustrating and can negatively impact how people view us, no matter if we were responsible for the problem or not. Follow this rule: minimize the possibility of an error to maximize your impact!

2. Distracting background

Imagine going to a five-star restaurant and seeing dirty floors and cluttered tables. In such a messy place, even the best food would leave a bad aftertaste. To avoid the same judgment, make sure to tidy up the room you’re in – at the very least, the part that’s on camera.

As this is a non-problem during on-site conferences and office meetings, where there is a specific person responsible for proper maintenance, it is easy to forget about it in an online setting. Apart from overall tidiness, consider the following tips:

  • make sure that your background is not distracting
  • set up the camera at eye-level
  • mind the lighting – your face should be visible and well-lit

And don’t get us wrong: the problem lies not in your sitting in a kitchen or having your kid / animal run into the shot (that actually shows an aspect of your humanity), but in how “loud” (= negatively distracting) the background & lighting is.

Additionally, remember that many online conference platforms allow you to blur your background or even replace it altogether. It’s a good alternative!

3. Unsuitable presentation

Let’s take the “look like a leader” part literally. During online meetings, people forget to present well not only their background, but sometimes even themselves. In the comfort of your home, you don’t need to worry about over-dressing or under-dressing, or about personal grooming. But remote work is still work, and if you’re to appear on camera in a professional setting – make sure you look presentable.

Just like with taking care of your background, the issue goes much further than just general cleanliness. Your own chair in your own room might be a bit too comfortable, and make you too relaxed as a result. Here are some tips:

  • maintain good (upright) posture – don’t lean on the desk
  • keep your legs on the ground
  • if you have a revolving chair – avoid rotating it excessively (or lock its rotation altogether)
  • don’t let your eyes wander too much

4. Lack of adjustment

Communicating via Zoom requires different (more advanced and sophisticated) communication competencies than communicating in a room or on stage does. It’s much more difficult to:

  • “read the room”
  • manage participants
  • know when and how to speak up effectively

Only some part of real life communication translates to online communication. Adjusting to this kind of speaking requires a lot of time and practice.

On top of that, each platform (Skype, Zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet, etc.) has its own features like break-out rooms or chats that have the potential to enhance participant experience, but if not used correctly, they can add onto the frustration. Learning the ins and outs of the program you’re using will allow you to focus on improving your online communication skills instead of worrying whether you use the program correctly.

5. Unmuted microphone

This is one of the simplest changes that you can implement. To quote Avery Blank in the Forbes article, “Leaders should not be the ones doing all the talking. They should be listening too.” Hence, when it’s not your turn to talk, your microphone should be muted, which allows others to speak without any disturbances.

While it’s obvious when you’re calling from a noisy place, you should do this even if you’re just in your room alone. Unless your microphone is equipped with proper noise reduction, it will pick up surrounding noise, which might pull attention from other participants. Additionally, the occasional uncontrolled cough or squeak of a chair may completely throw someone off their track. Mute your microphone and avoid ever having to deal with this issue!

What is more, encourage other participants to do the same. Depending on the size of the meeting, a huge number of unmuted microphones may also slow down the program and create lag. When joining a group call / webinar – one can tell right away who’s aware of this issue and who doesn’t get it (yet).

6. Talking over others

Finally, as a huge part of adjusting to online communication, you should also realize that it often takes longer to discuss a topic than it would in a real life setting. Avery Blank notes that both your and other participants’ responses may arrive with a (often significant) delay due to lag and slow Internet. Thus, she suggests giving everyone ample time to respond and not speaking up until you’re sure that someone finished talking.

Worst case scenario, the entire conversation may plunge into chaos as a result of people talking over each other, even if it’s not their intention. Avery points out that pausing is a viable option, as “Silence never hurt anyone.” Accept that due to the nature of the setting, the meeting will require more patience from everyone and that discussions may be more time-consuming. Make sure that everyone in the meeting knows this.

Additionally, if it’s a technical issue that influences a delay, ask the participant to turn their program off and on again, and if that fails – their device. Sometimes, the issue is easy to fix.

If you have the feeling that you, your team or your managers & leaders would benefit from a tailored training in the areas mentioned above, get in touch with Career Angels! We’d love to support you!

  • Schedule a meeting with one of our experts by sending an e-mail directly to Contact@CareerAngels.eu | Subject: Video Conferencing