Virtual Communication 101

Dominique Dragon |

Pre-COVID most of us had never even heard of Zoom. Now many of us spend time on this app every day. And while you may be pretty Zoom-ed out by now, the reality is that even when the pandemic is over, virtual meetings, school sessions, and family gatherings will probably continue to be a bigger part of our lives than they were before. Seeing that it's an inevitable part of our futures, here's how to make the most of virtual communication:

Visits with Family & Friends:

If you haven't been invited to a virtual wedding, game night, or cocktail hour, will be. It's not the same as an in-person event, but connecting with your family and friends through a screen is better than not doing it at all. Here are a few things that can improve your experience:

  • Be present: If you decide to participate in a virtual event, go all in. This means turning on your camera and actually paying attention to the activity or conversation. No email, social media, or TV watching on the side. You'll enjoy the event more, and so will everyone else.
  • Show and tell: If you're going to the trouble of a virtual visit, why not take advantage of the visual communication aspect? Showing off your latest bread baking attempt or sharing your recent decorating project will make the visit more fun and help everyone to feel more connected to each other's daily lives.
  • Have a plan: Even if the virtual session is casual, having something to do will make everyone feel a little less awkward and make the visit more meaningful. Ask everyone to share a story about their week, play a trivia game or host a family talent show.

Virtual Work Meetings:

By now, we've all shared the inside of our homes with our co-workers, and we've all experienced meeting interruptions caused by kids, pets, and other home-related distractions. But as virtual meetings become more routine, it may become more expected that we know what we're doing and demonstrate professionalism in that context. Here's how:

  • Check your visuals: There is some merit to the idea that we shouldn't worry so much about our bookshelves, pets, or anything else that might be slightly embarrassing or unprofessional in our Zoom backgrounds. But in order to participate effectively in a virtual meeting, you've got to feel comfortable and confident. So if you're good with the self-help books behind you and your cat jumping on your lap, more power to you. Just be sure to dress and set up your background in a way that doesn't undermine what you're trying to do.
  • Use your camera wisely: Showing your face during a meeting can show that you're serious and engaged, but let's face it, many work meetings are made for getting other work done in the background. Be smart about when to use your video and when to let your avatar do the work for you.
  • Know when to pay attention: Just like in pre-pandemic times, paying attention during a work meeting takes some effort, especially if you're not required to speak or engage in any formal way. Try to avoid multitasking as much as possible so you don't miss important information, and to help you stay connected to your peers.