Real Leaders

Put Aside Your Pajamas For Zoom Meetings and Show Up Confidently With These Great Speaking Tips

Man having meeting with colleagues on video call at hybrid office. Male in hybrid office space and having video conference call with coworker working remotely.

I’m very body-conscious and always try to hide behind a lectern when speaking. What can I do to help myself walk confidently around a stage?

Lecterns can come in handy when attempting to hide a lousy outfit or a less than Fitness Today cover photo profile. I’m not crazy about speakers moving around a stage. It can annoy the audience to “contact trace” you and takes power away from your focused content. That said, when you must move around physically, remember that your thoughts and content are also moving around. Being immersed in your content and inspired by your message will help remove self-conscious moving.

Being more interested in what you have to say than how you are standing or walking will convey itself to the audience. Don’t ever forget the No. 1  precept — that a high percentage of effective communication is non-verbal. Your message is being transmitted from one heart to another, or from one mind to another. Hand gestures should only be used like punctuation marks; the way they are used when writing a sentence. Otherwise, keep your hands behind your back, in your pockets, or neatly folded in front. 

As I move from Zoom to in-person events again, what bad online habits should I be aware of?

Zoom has made us lazy in many respects. Since Zoom participants are usually all in the same boat regarding clothing and staging, they have been forgiven for a certain casualness and even sloppiness. In-person events are back and make us aware that pandemic patience can run short in live meetings. In Zoom, being late can be blamed on poor connectivity. Being late to an in-person meeting may be noted in your personnel file. On Zoom, you can discreetly shield your notes and content, or even share it live. In person, there aren’t as many places to hide, and your presentation may have to be revised to suit a live venue.

Clothing in the office has undoubtedly been relaxed, but wearing pajamas or athletic gear might be embarrassing. Don’t forget that on Zoom, you have a mic to make sure everyone can hear you. At an in-person meeting, you must ensure your voice is strong and confident, and you may have to ask if everyone can hear. Being away from in-person meetings for so long has made many people value them more. People need people for good mental health, and being on Zoom all the time presented a false proposition that being remote could be a replacement for that. It feels good to be back!

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