Tips for effective online meetings

Professional advice.

In a joint article, Sabina Nawaz, a global CEO coach advising C-level executives in Fortune 500 corporations, and Roberta J. Cordano, President of Gallaudet University, the world’s premier institution for deaf and hard of hearing students, discuss tips for more effective online communication based on the experiences of the deaf and hard of hearing community, who use a wider portfolio of communication strategies and tools on a daily basis to understand one another.

1. Pace, don’t race. During video meetings, follow the eyes of the participants. Visual information in the form of notes augments the aural experience. Slowing the pace allows time for every participant to process verbal information and for messages to land before moving on to the next speaker or topic.

2. Cultivate cooperation. A designated facilitator and an agreement to raise hands when someone wants to contribute is good practice. The facilitator can periodically announce a speaking order. By establishing a protocol and controlling for one conversation at a time, more people can participate, and everyone can be more fully and equitably engaged.

3. Expand to command attention. Imagine what we’d look like meeting in person with most of our torsos below the level of the conference room table. Adjust the camera angle, laptop elevation, and chair placement to be visible from the top of the head to the belly button.

4. Use non-verbal language to increase engagement. Use signs strategically during video calls. Complimenting words with facial expressions and gestures enriches the message, increases understanding, saves time, and boosts energy.

5. Use the chat for clarity. People often miss something in a conversation, although they don’t realise it or won’t admit to it. Use the chat box when you realise that you missed out on things during a discussion or when you have second thoughts.

6. Dress for success. Intentionally selecting clothing that is comfortable and easy on the eyes, together with careful attention to the visual background behind us creates a professional presence that can also lift spirits.


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