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Re-write: Action!




"What we've got here is a failure to communicate." Cool Hand Luke Everyone's an actor. Popular Youtubers teach how look better on video. This makes sense, since how you look contributes more toward a positive response than how you sound or what you say. A quick summary: 1) Set your camera at eye level; 2) source light in front, 3) frame yourself so you won't look too big–or too small.

There's more to learn. Start with the difference between a "meeting" and "webinar." Webinars are for "one-to-many presentations." A meeting is for interaction. Most "meetings" I've attended are actually webinars with questions tacked onto the end. And they work only when the speaker is dynamic and the topic spot on. This is lost on most speakers. Unless you're a podcaster or DJ who can entertain without an interviewee, ramp up interaction. For example, use the "polling" function. Polling engages and gives something more to do than sit, watch, and listen. Use break-out groups. Small groups or pairs. Or one then the other. Discuss: What surprised them? What are they still wondering about? Zoom can create beak-outs automatically. And there are other ways to engage, attract, and keep attention for as long as the meeting goes. Speaking of which, why use all the allotted time? A friend, a fan of colorful language, puts it like this: "Really pisses me off! There's 5 or 10 minutes left. We've covered everything on the agenda. Then there's some f-ing idiot who brings up some hypothetical bullshit topic that's never gonna f-ing happen, and I gotta pee!"


I hear you (and here's some soap to wash your mouth). Just don't end early if you promised Q & A and someone's waiting with question. Let them ask! After answering, end the meeting, but not "for everyone." Those who want to can stay and chat.

The Ugly

We're on video more than ever, and just like the Clint Eastwood movie, we're seeing "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." Speaking of ugly... Have you heard of the "transcribe" option? It records, in text, words spoken during a Zoom session. One recent speaker said "you know" 15 times in less than 2 minutes. If he were to see his comments transcribed, he would be rightfully mortified. Toastmasters assigns an "um/ah" counter, one member who reports filler words used by speakers. Imagine how you would feel if this was your last sentence: "Well, you know, the report we have here, you know, kind of shows how we're ah, you know, still growing, but, you know, it's not at all clear, that um, you know, we'll stay on this positive trajectory." That painful example is, sadly, not an exaggeration. It can be infuriating. The most infamous "you know" video doomed Caroline Kennedy's Senate run. Now you're not running for a New York Senate seat, but you are running a meeting. And we're watching. Andy Bergin (friend, coach, founder of Speaking Virtually) reminded me to remind you: "It's not the technology that matters–it's the person using the technology that makes the difference." So in your next action role, that is, your next video meeting: Be Good, not Bad, and not Ugly!

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