Blinding Success in Virtual Meetings
Are you Blind?
With most of our meetings online these days, this is a valid question. Many of our senses are offline when we are having conversations to a face (or a name) on the display. Sometimes, virtual meetings can be like dining in the dark.
Until the Covid-19 lockdown, meetings were face to face, at least with most of the team, most of the time. In those face-to-face meetings, your brain received all kinds of information. As information arrived, it was channeled primarily by function. What you saw with your eyes was channeled through your visual cortex. Sounds went through your auditory cortex. Smells drifted through your olfactory bulbs. Other environmental sensory input, like noticing someone shifting in their chair, traveled through your nervous system to end up in your neocortex, where you made observations and decisions based on all the input you received.
In virtual meetings, you can retrain your brain to “sense” all available information, but it will take refocus and practice. Here are some things you can do to get acceptance, agreements, and commitments, in virtual meetings.
- It goes without saying that you should practice professional standards for your meeting, including defining its purpose and expected outcome, sending the agenda in advance, and only including people who need to be there.
- Listen as if sound is the only sense you have. You may think listing is easy, but it is one of the hardest things to do. As someone is talking, pay attention to them and ask open-ended questions from a place of curiosity to encourage them to share more. While looking at the person who is speaking, keep your peripheral vision wide. You will begin to notice changes in other people that you need to take note of.
- Practice Tactical Empathy. This is a way to discover underlying emotions so you can address them, neutralize them, and make trust-based connections. When you recognize people for who they are and what they are feeling, they feel understood. It builds trust so you can communicate your message and get agreement. The term, Tactical Empathy, was coined by Chris Voss in his book “Never Split the Difference”.
Practice these strategies and you will develop flexibility of style, so you can become a better at connecting, relating, and influencing with integrity. Your team will feel more connected and loyal to you. That will keep them focused and get your project work done.