There’s a big difference between being used to Zoom meetings, and approaching them with the same energy and effort as we would any in-person meeting. After all this time, is it still possible to refresh stale calls and nerve-racking video interviews?
If you are feeling a lag and looking for ways to boost the mood, where there is a will, there is a way. In this post, we compiled some of the best ideas to get a grip on negative feelings and channel your best energy into your virtual presentation, tech interview, or weekly standup meeting.
It comes back to one simple idea; how can you be charming over Zoom? How do we translate the finesse of our words and expressions? We’ll establish a few myths of excelling on Zoom, and what you really need to break out of your shell.
Think of a recent virtual interaction in which you got off a call thinking, “I want to work with that person more.” What were they doing that revamped your meeting’s mood or brought a new level of confidence? We all understand a universal language of energy, passion, and positivity that radiates off certain people. It’s something you can feel. Charming people over Zoom has a lot to do with being charismatic in virtual spaces.
The “vibes” we get from other people are stored in an informal information bank that tells us whether or not we think someone is credible, trustworthy, and understanding of our needs in turn. A study on personality from the University of Toronto found that charisma is tied to approachability, presence, and leadership. Virtual calls are thereby a form of public speaking that can bring up feelings of nervousness or anxiety for some. This type of performance does not come naturally to everyone, so practicing what you might say or having a set of go-to responses helps you feel grounded.
Set the tone by having a personal coaching moment about what you will bring to your upcoming meeting. Finding what works for you to stay calm and speak with authority can be the difference between an effective pitch and an awkward encounter. Now that we have established the role of Zoom-charisma and bringing your best to virtual spaces, what are the tools necessary for growing that comfort level?
Whether you are interviewing for a new job or coming to your weekly meeting, being prepared means different things to different people. You don’t have to write out your most eloquent thoughts and memorize them word for word, but you only help yourself if you prepare a road map of important talking points on what you need to cover. Being engaging over Zoom comes down to staying organized, setting the stage, and keeping things personable.
When someone is coming up with answers off the cuff, adding a few too many “ums,” it’s easy to tell. Some meetings are meant for a more candid style of brainstorming and problem solving, while others benefit from prep beforehand. Contributing your thoughts and asking poignant questions can build rapport with whoever you are engaging with. You can do this by familiarizing yourself with the topic. If interviewing, make sure you get the details of the company you’re interviewing with from your recruiter or online.
Particularly in interviews, know the tough questions that are important to you. As you are coming from a position of choice in possibly making a career move, is it asking about how culture has changed through remote work? Is it important to you to know where there are opportunities for leadership and growth?
Good interviewers understand that voicing these thoughts takes courage, and shows you are genuinely interested. In a way, asking tough or thoughtful questions can be a brilliant way to stop someone in their tracks. How has your organization’s perspective changed through COVID? How has your leadership approached management styles with dispersed teams? You can earn someone’s trust by asking questions that put their authoritative opinion front and center in the conversation.
Dubbed “E-charisma” by the Wall Street Journal, upping your game in terms of being responsive and substantive on virtual calls shows you are present. And yes, that means resisting the temptation to switch off your video and be half-engaged. You may still be listening, but it indicates to everyone else on the call that you are multi-tasking.
As for extroverts, those used to talking with their hands and using physical gestures to encourage discussion flow will have to use more verbal cues to keep that flow going. It may seem obvious, but we could all use a reminder that nodding our heads and soft smiles shows visually that we are paying attention and absorbing what’s happening on the screen.
Think about the people that more easily keep you nodding your head or involved in the conversation, and what techniques they use. Are you impressed with a presenter’s energy when you get on a call or webinar and they have a polished, flowing cadence of what they came to relay? In this way, think about how you can add value by bringing facts, insights, and knowledge from your unique experience. Trust in your own expertise, and lean on that knowledge.
Especially if you’re trying to secure a top position at a new company, there has to be a certain level of self-promotion. Most interviews have open-ended questions that ask candidates to give examples of times they pushed through a challenge, or used their unique skills to exceed expectations. Give examples of these moments, and strike a balance between showing off your knowledge and your ability to work within a team.
As part of your interview prep, consider how your personal brand of charm has made positive impacts on your work and collaboration with others. After all, even if you do not share every story, having a personal narrative describing your high-points reveals your best characteristics. And what is charm if not a strong background of knowledge that allows you to think on your toes and outside of the box?
While you’ve probably mastered your laptop’s camera angle and Instagram-model worthy lighting at this point, no magic room lighting can replace just letting your personality shine. The same things that charm us when we meet at the office, someone’s sense of humor or their wit or generosity are what we need to keep bringing to calls. We appreciate a good laugh on our weekly meetings as much as any other team, and the magic of human interaction is worth the awkwardness of putting yourself out there.
Do you need to wear a full suit for interviews and clear off and repaint a wall in your house to be a dedicated meeting space? That’s your prerogative, and a suit can still be a sign of respect or professionalism, even on video interviews. However, we feel there is also a more comfortable in between of dressing yourself to be presentable, work appropriate (sorry PJ’s, we’ll see you later), and not showing potential partners/employers your unmade bed or clothes-strewn room. No excuses here, as it takes less than 60 seconds to set-up a neutral Zoom background for a hassle-free clean space.
Once all your ducks are in a row, it’s an easy as breaking the ice with a smile, and reminding ourselves how to be more approachable. Remember you can sprinkle in some story-telling and humor at appropriate times, so video calls become as a natural in the workflow as in-person meetings. Channel the professionals that do keep your attention, instead of feeling your eyes pull towards other screens. They were most likely funny, excited, and bringing their energy to the crowd about whatever the subject matter may be. At the end of the day, put your own spin on e-charm, and your best digital foot forward.
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!