Leading Virtual IEP Meetings
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Tips for looking and sounding competent and professional from home
I get it! You’re not going to go all out for each of the 5,342 Zoom meetings you’re invited to each week during quarantine. If you’re meeting with a bunch of colleagues for a regular check in, then fine! Throw on some sweats and try to hide the fact that you’re simultaneously watching Netflix —but there are certain meetings (like IEP meetings) where messy hair and an oversized sweater are just not going to cut it.
If you are one of the leaders or key participants in a virtual meeting, it is important that you look and sound professional and confident from home! Here are some tips for making that happen!
DRESS UP ON TOP
It sounds simple, but based on the number of individuals who flat-out ignore this step, I felt it was well worth mentioning. It’s not hard at all to instantly communicate your effectiveness as a leader simply by decorating the upper half of your body.
Do something with your hair. Wash your face. Put on a nice top. And then: BOOM! We have a great foundation to build on!
PLAN APPROPRIATELY ON THE BOTTOM
For most meetings, you don’t even have to dress your bottom half! You could literally wear nothing down there and no one would know! HOWEVER, make sure to plan ahead.
If you’ll do any standing, shifting, reaching, etc., you should plan accordingly. The last thing you want to do is flash your stuff to a virtual room full of professionals, colleagues, and families.
EYE LEVEL CAMERA ANGLE
Setting your lap top directly on the table will result in an upward camera angle that makes you look older, heavier, less professional, and, whether it’s true or not, it really can create the perception that you may be incompetent.
Instead of setting your computer directly on a table top, set in on a stack of books or some sort of risen platform to create an eye level angle that screams “I know what I’m doing!”, and “I’ve effortlessly adapted to stay-at-home orders because I’m a G!”
Of course not everyone is going to invest in professional lighting for at-home video meetings, BUT that does NOT mean that you can’t find good lighting in your home!
You can sit facing a big window, or set a lamp behind your computer. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that the light is coming directly at your face for a clean, professional look.
If light is coming from behind you, you will become a dark shadow on camera. Light coming from above can cause you to look old and saggy! I know…terrifying, right? So take the extra steps to find good lighting!
Sound is as important, or maybe even more important than lighting!
If you’re in a noisy room, if your voice isn’t loud enough, or if the sound is cutting in and out, no one will take you seriously. I know I wouldn’t!
Make sure your are in a quiet space. If you are relying on your computer’s microphone, make sure that you sit closer to the computer in order to be closer to the mic. You may also want to invest in headphones with a good quality built-in microphone! These could help improve your sound quality, PLUS you can also use them for hands-free phone calls and listening to your favorite music or videos!
CHOOSE A SIMPLE BACKGROUND
Another simple tip to elevate your look is to make sure that your background is simple, clean, and easy on the eyes. If there are piles of clutter and animals moving around in your video frame, this will take away from your overall message and it will make you seem unprepared and disheveled.
SIT UP STRAIGHT
In the short time we have been working from home, I have seen people in video meetings lounging on couches, lying on floors, and even resting their heads on large dogs. Doing things like this can definitely make people think differently of you and they might even lose some respect for you.
Posture is a great way to show that you take your job seriously. You have the rest of the day to slouch around, so make sure that you demonstrate your leadership through your body language while leading virtual meetings!
TALK TO THE CAMERA
While it may feel unnatural, this tip is especially important if you are “presenting” information during a meeting.
Our natural instinct is to look at the faces on the screen during a video chat, but looking directly at the camera lens will make your presentation more personal, giving participants the feeling that you are addressing them directly.
TEST THE TECHNOLOGY BEFOREHAND
What is worse than suddenly having to learn to use a brand new online platform? I’ll tell you what’s worse! Learning to use that platform live in front of your colleagues, staff, and whoever else joins the meeting!
If it’s your fist time hosting a virtual meeting on a specific platform, play with the technology a few days beforehand. Even if you’ve been a participant on the platform, hosting the meeting can be very different. No one wants to sit around while you scramble to get your life together!
I hope that you stay safe and healthy during this crazy time!