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The Art of Showing Up — Virtually

Do you remember the last in-person networking event you attended? Out of curiosity, were you excited to attend? Or did you attend simply because you were on auto pilot and knew that showing up was important to you and your business? I was thinking about this – about how tiring the thought of preparing for another networking event (or meeting or business gathering of some sort) can be sometimes. And yet we still show up.
Now it’s all moved online. We don’t have to worry about driving in traffic or whether they’ll have decent coffee (or tea) to drink. In theory, it’s much easier to show up for a virtual meeting. BUT, I’m beginning to see evidence that the same kind of in-person networking “fatigue” is starting to show up in the Zoom meetings I’m hosting and attending. It feels like some people are just show up and going through the motions… sometimes without making any effort at all! There hadn’t been much of a reason before now, but maybe it’s time to take a closer look at how we’re showing up in the virtual world.
There is an art to showing up. I use the word “art” because how we decide to show up is subjective, just like art is subjective. It’s a choice that’s ours to make. So ask yourself: Am I really showing up for virtual meetings, or am I letting virtual-meeting fatigue be my excuse for not showing up online as professionally as I would in person?
Actually, that last question is a trick question because this is new territory for most of us so we don’t have a list of “best practices” for showing up virtually—until now! Here are five tips to take into consideration so you too can master the art of showing up for virtual meetings.
Set the stage for your virtual window. Online, people can see you so make sure you’re putting your best foot… oops… I mean your best face forward. Think about what people will see when they look at your virtual window. This is a great article full of tips on how to look and sound great on a virtual meeting, including tips about lighting, microphones, and backgrounds.
Remember that when you’re on camera people can and do watch you. I’m always amazed by the things people do on camera with no regard for the fact that people are watching. Granted, you can’t exactly make eye contact during a virtual meeting, but a smile and a nod at the right moment is evidence you ARE paying attention.
Think about the way you’re physically presenting yourself. You wouldn’t go to an in-person networking event or an office meeting in your PJ’s, or looking like you just crawled out of bed. Why? Because you know what kind of impression that would make. No difference online. So, at least from the waist up, commit to showing up dressed and coiffed. Looking good is going to help you feel good too. 
If you’ve made the decision to attend a virtual meeting, you might as well show up mentally too. Before the meeting starts, take a minute to think about what you want to get out of it. Make it a point to participate during the meeting. Make sure you know how to “raise your hand” so you can contribute to the conversation. Show up in the chat too. Not just with your own comments, but also by responding to other people’s comments.  
Respect virtual meeting courtesies. The overall intention here is to not become a distraction. Don’t be the person who’s always moving around, talking to someone else, playing fetch with their dog, or whatever. Yes, most of us are virtual from our homes so things are bound to happen. If something is unavoidable, be courteous and turn off your audio and video until you’re ready to bring your attention back to the meeting.
To sum things up, virtual meetings are no longer a novelty. It’s also probably safe to say that once things transition back to the new normal, virtual meetings will continue to play a part in our lives. Following these simple tips will make a lasting good impression with people remembering you for all the right reasons. How you show up from the waist down… well… there just might be an art to that too. 
‘Til we speak again,
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