While virtual interactions have become much more common in recent years, not everyone knows how to properly engage others in virtual environments. This is especially true as video conferencing tools become more widely used to enable virtual learning, events, and professional meetings for dispersed employees.
When navigating how to properly use these tools, professionals tend to rely on what works in person, but those methods often don’t translate well to virtual spaces. As leaders, the members of businessupdates.org Business Council are familiar with best practices for both in-person and virtual meetings. Below, 13 of them share their favorite ways to radiate warmth and make and maintain real connections with attendees during virtual meetings.
Table of Contents
1. Make small talk
Start with pleasantries. That can help everyone settle in and organize their thoughts for the meeting. This is something that happens more naturally in face-to-face meetings because people are in the same room and people stumble in. However, by making the effort to incorporate this aspect of face-to-face encounters into online encounters, you can help foster connections during virtual encounters. meetings. – Josh Thompson, Thompson Field Service
2. Make an effort to make personal contact
In my opinion, the best way to radiate warmth and engage others in a virtual environment is to make an effort to connect with them on a personal level. This can be done by asking about their interests, sharing personal stories and really listening to what they have to say. In addition, I think it is important to be aware of your body language and tone of voice. – Dustin Lemick, Brite Co
One of the best ways to radiate warmth is to smile. A sincere smile conveys both friendliness and approachability, two characteristics that are essential for a successful meeting. Another important tip is to make eye contact with each conversation partner. This helps to create a sense of belonging. Focus on being present in the moment and connecting with the people you’re talking to. – Michael Scribman, APS Global Partners Inc.
4. Manage your virtual presence
Learn how to manage your video presence during virtual meetings. It starts with making eye contact with your audience. This is done by looking at the camera in front of you, so make a conscious effort to look at it instead of the screen. Don’t forget to place your camera at eye level. – Marilisa Barbieri
5. Concentrate exclusively on the meeting
My favorite way to make and foster connections in virtual meetings is to focus solely on the meeting window. Just as I would put my phone away during an in-person meeting, during virtual meetings I make sure I’m fully present with all other windows closed and notifications turned off to avoid distractions. This allows me to consistently make eye contact and show that I’m actively listening to the meeting. – John Hadji, Top key
6. Ask questions
Relationships are important, and they can be difficult to develop in a virtual environment. Always start by asking questions. Ask about their family, ask if they’ve done anything new, fun, or meaningful, or ask if they have anything exciting coming up. Are they currently having personal issues? Take notes and then send a message to check in. Show them you’re human first, then get to work. – Tyler Weitzman, Speechify
My favorite way to project heat is by making statements that I see them and the space around them. It lets the person know that I am observing them and our surroundings in the same way I would if I were seeing them in person. It also opens the door for personal stories that naturally promote dialogue by reminding both of us that we are behind-the-scenes people. – Kim Kelly, pepper work
8. Adjust your mindset
It comes down to mindset: you have to start by believing that the person is right in front of you. Show like you’re in physical range and act like you physically would (assuming your engagement style is great). From listening, building rapport, leaning forward, smiling, gesturing, dressing appropriately, preparing, taking notes and sharing to addressing and thanking all participants, do it all. – Michael Koopman, 2Swell Corp.
9. Pay attention to your body language
When speaking in front of a virtual audience, I am facing the camera or have the camera positioned so that I am facing forward and well framed. Humans are visual creatures that rely on cues to read confidence. Posture and eye contact are still powerful tools. You want to make an extra effort to ensure that your digital persona can visually look at and connect with others while speaking. – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC
10. Bring elements from previous communication
We value treating our customers like our family, so we nurture an environment with a very “personal touch”. Some ways we keep this in mind are by structuring our emails to ask how they’re doing and even starting the conversation with a quick personal update. – Hani Anis, kahani digital marketing
11. Listen actively
Take the time to actively listen to what others are saying and acknowledge their point of view so that they feel seen and heard. Ask empathetic, open-ended questions to understand their challenges or points of view, and be sincere in your desire to help them achieve their goals. – Run Ronen, Even AI
12. Be attentive and focused
There are many cultural norms of conversation and no one-size-fits-all solution for a global workforce. In fact, you have to become a master at listening, reading minute non-verbal cues and allowing people to express themselves without judgment. If someone wants to chat upfront or get down to business right away, oblige. – Samuel Johnson, n enterprise
13. Remove any distractions
Make sure you remove all distractions and sounds. Open with some small talk and try to get everyone involved for two to three minutes. Once the meeting has started, be attentive by trying to look at the screen where you have the camera to show you’re listening and nod your head if you agree. When the meeting is over, don’t forget to thank everyone before you leave. – Pedro Barboglio, Remote team solutions