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Helpful or Hindering in Virtual World?

Virtual Meetings are now our life!

How many hours you have spent in online meetings in the last week? If you’re like me, LOTS!  What I see and hear influence me differently these days.  Some of what I’m noticing is great adaptation to our current environment.  Some of it is in the moment fun and craziness.  Both can be helpful, and both can be hindering.

Our Virtual Discovery

My (Donna) home office is feeling more like a “time out” room than an office.  I find myself working from bedrooms and living spaces just to escape the confines of my quarantined surroundings.  Although I manage “the look” of what people see in the projection from my office, I have been less careful as my office moves around my house with me. Once people started to comment on the gallery of family photos behind me, I began to question whether this is actually helping or hindering my impact.

Paula struggles with Forest, the “hairy horse”, a newly acquired family cat who loves to peek around her screen and lay on her keyboard (pictured here!).  Adorable and hilarious to those of us watching.   Irritating to Paula.   Paula has also been sporting virtual backgrounds which make the outline of her profile glimmer as though she is some kind of wraith.  Occasionally, whole sections of her body “energize” like parts of her body are being transported to some other planet. 

Laura has an office with a window behind her, meaning she is backlit.   Her skin color changes frequently. In just minutes, she shifts between the classic Minnesota winter pasty white to “we’ve been on one of our adventures” sun-bronzed look.  Sometimes, she just looks like someone in witness protection that is completely blacked out and I find myself waiting for her voice to be altered.

What I also find interesting is that I am surprised by all the notification noises I hear during meetings.  Notifications of every kind distract my attention and I find myself wondering (somewhat malevolently) who is failing to mute email, text, and phone noises.  And then I also wonder if I cause the same unintended distractions.

What is your intent?

Many of us are adjusting to this 100% virtual world in new ways.  Even those of us who have been working from home before, we now find that our household is not the same.  This more than likely has been quite the adjustment period.  

Most of us are now entering a few weeks of committed virtual working and living.  It has been amazing to see folks in their ‘natural’ settings – a real connection.  It has also been distracting at times balancing the home life settings, other humans in the background, and sounds not related to the meeting.  While a home environment cannot be controlled completely, there are some things we can control depending on our intent.

In this consistent virtual environment, our personal brands are also exposed as we show up on video.  As a TDE team, we have considered “the look” we want to project in different business situations, so we still remain who we are but provide the impact we desire:

  • Casual and relaxed for internal team meetings or social events

  • Relaxed, neat and professional for external meetings

  • Potentially more formal for “new” prospects, and some sales interactions 

Our goal ultimately is to make a positive difference.  What we discovered is we need to have a different level of intention to communicate well and have the desired impact in this 100% virtual world.  We were reminded that we need to be intentional about how we show up.  Without intention to our brand, it is left to chance.  Sometimes chance works…and sometimes it doesn’t.  

How do you want people to see and hear you as you engage virtually?  What are your intentions?  


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