Your Most Powerful Self
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Like it or not, on-camera conferencing appears to be here to stay. Whether you’re meeting on Zoom, Webex, Teams, GoToMeeting, or other forums, it isn’t always easy especially with Zoom fatigue, challenging conditions at home often with children, and noisy pets in the background, not to mention technology and lighting issues, and manterruptions!
Forty-five percent of women business leaders say it’s difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings. One out of five women says she’s felt ignored or overlooked by colleagues during video calls, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit that works to advance women.
Zooming from the home office can also be awkward. I have some personal experience with this. During a recent zoom call with a key executive, who was recording our conversation for her boss, my son attempted to throw his boxers over my head and out of the shot. That’s right – they landed across my face. Not my best moment.
Most of us have experienced some such thing; hopefully not to that degree. Of course, having a great presence goes well beyond safeguarding against things like this. That’s why PINK brought together a cadre of thought leaders on the topic to deliver takeaway solutions to members of the exclusive Pink Power Alliance. Here are a few takeaways we wanted to share:
First, we read the room. We asked the group, what keeps them from presenting their best selves?
The top obstacle? Zoom fatigue according to 52% of those polled, followed by Interruptions at the home office (48%) and thinking It’s just not that important (14%). What to do about it?
No excuses, says social media and marketing guru Danica Kombol, “If you’re not on camera, they don’t know who you are. You’ve lost your opportunity to show up.” Adds Leadership Coach and Founder and CEO, VWH Consulting, Vicki Wright-Hamilton if you’re not on camera, “I do believe it diminishes your power because you can’t read the nonverbal.”
Being on camera is so important that former TV anchorwoman, longtime media powerhouse, and WABE Morning Edition Host, and Producer, Lisa Rayam told the group she finds a way to show up even if there are scheduling conflicts. “I’ve been on two or three Zoom calls at the same time. If you want to be heard, you need to be seen.”
We all know these on-camera meetings can be exhausting. But there are ways to handle it says Chief of Staff and Sr. Director, Digital Manufacturing and Innovation at WestRock, Sukai Crook. “If the meeting goes long, I’ll let them know, ‘I’m going off-camera and I’ll be back.’ I have to keep myself moving or I get really stiff,” says Sukai. Vicki says she’ll do 10 jumping jacks, take a walk or meditate between calls. And while all the speakers are advocates of showing up, literally, with your camera on, they acknowledge that sometimes, it’s just too much to deal with. “There are times when people are like, ‘I’m just over it,’” says Vicki. “And that is OK.”
Being promoted three times in three years, while working with coach Vicki, Sukai learned first-hand, “as you get higher on the ladder, presentation skills become more important.”
We all know it’s tricky enough just to get noticed. And women who raise their hands to speak are often passed over. PINK’s panel of experts has a solution for that too: The art of the pause. “When there’s a pause—take yourself off the mute,” says Vicki. Take advantage of it says Lisa, “Chime in.” She adds, “I’ve never been told not to talk when I didn’t raise my hand.”
THIS is the time to jump in says Vicki who explains how. “I might say, ‘excuse me, can we consider…’” She adds, “It shows you’re on top of it and able to respond. And don’t ever miss an opportunity when they ask, ‘Are there any other questions?’ They’ve opened the door. Take the stage!”
“Don’t wait your turn” was the consensus. Knowing that the men on the Zoom often don’t even wait for that pause, Sukai takes it a step further, “Sometimes I’m a fan of the interruption. I say, ‘Can I restate that in a different way?”
Other fundamentals emphasized included the importance of eye contact. “You need to know where the camera is. Direct your questions toward the camera not down at a paper,” says Lisa.
Vicki added “use your hands to be engaged” This is big. “Your hands communicate a great message. The reception I got [when I started using mine] was powerful. I opened up and invited you in.”
Danica encouraged everyone to “prop up books [so the camera is eye-level]. If your background is messy, get a flag [from your university] put it behind you, which says something about you. Take the time to make your background look good. Ring lights are just 20 bucks on Amazon.”
“Find ways to look professional. It doesn’t have to be perfect,” says Vicki. “If you’re having a bad hair day, tie it up.” The leaders suggest taking a closer look at your outfit, your jewelry, use your background options, “be succinct, think in bullets,” said Sukai. Focus on what matters to your audience. Is it casual or are you speaking to leadership? Says Vicki, “Audience becomes extremely important. Make sure your executive presence is articulate and they can see where you are speaking. Other times you may want to be a little bit relaxed.” Acknowledge at the onset “you may see children.” Lisa adds, “Keep yourself on mute in case there are interruptions. Things happen. It’s just how you handle them.”
There’s room for improvement. 50% of those surveyed think they Could do better; 35% described their skills as Adequate; 10% said they’re Fantastic and 5% said simply, Not good!
“Practice makes perfect,” says Lisa. She shared what she did. “Put on headphones to see what your voice sounds like. Tape yourself.” Sukai reminded those attending that as women we tend to be overly self-critical. “We all have room for improvement. But celebrate yourself.”
By Cynthia Good, Founder and CEO, Little Pink Book
Their final words of wisdom?
Danica: “Turn your camera on.”
Vicki: “Get comfortable by doing selfie videos.”
Sukai: “Remember you’re always on stage.”
Lisa: “Don’t be afraid to show up and be who you are.”
8 Zoom Presentation Tips
- Make sure your equipment and Wi-Fi work
- Check your lighting
- Tidy up your background (hide the laundry/dishes)
- Dress for your audience (at least from the waist up)
- Spotlight your face (versus your chin, your ceiling, or the top of your head)
- Minimize potential interruptions
- Engage fully, look into the camera, use your hands
- Speak up with your camera on
From Vicki Wright-Hamilton, Leadership Coach and Founder and CEO, VWH Consulting
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
Join PINK and this exclusive group of women leaders and emerging leaders for upcoming Pink Power Alliance conversations— Expand your network and your leadership skills, and connect with like-minded women.
October 3rd, 2021
September 26th, 2021
July 25th, 2021
June 18th, 2021
May 31st, 2021