Admit it. When the first shutdowns of the pandemic occurred, it was difficult to imagine that we’d still be grappling with their effects some seven months later . . . and counting. Luckily, there’s talk of vaccines and therapeutics, so it seems as though some relief may be on the horizon. Time will tell.
In the meantime, our ways of working have changed. Some changes are hopefully temporary, such as closures and/or dramatic scaling back of restaurants, bars, and live events (such as concerts and arena sports). Other changes may not be so temporary, such as working from home and meeting virtually.
I, for one, believe that many businesses and individuals will find a post-COVID-19 “return to normal” somewhat tricky. Why? Because conducting business virtually has certain flexibility and economic benefits that many will be hard-pressed to give up once the pandemic ends.
From one-on-one and group meetings, to job interviews and even tradeshow attendance and exhibiting, “virtual” is how we do things these days. With that proverbial horse out of the barn, it’s tough to see how, for many, it ever gets corralled again.
After all, with “virtual” comes fewer geographic and time constraints. Virtual job candidates and meeting participants don’t have to travel long distances, pay for lodging and meals on the road, or be away from home (and family) for extended times. They can literally join any meeting anywhere in the world in minutes. If you have access to a web browser or smartphone and an Internet connection, it’s just a matter of clicking the right link and using the right passcode and you’re in.
Such utility represents big savings for many businesses and individuals who don’t need to be there in person to “do the job.”
Virtual also results in less environmental impact and other inherent efficiencies such as the ease of sharing screens, viewing presentations, and uploading or downloading digital documents.
The Inevitability of Change
Of course, not everything can be done virtually. There’s still equipment to install, machines to repair, and one can never truly substitute a virtual meet-and-greet for the real thing. That said, it’s a safe bet that things will be different going forward.
- Those droves of business travelers the travel and hospitality industry counted on every week pre-pandemic? The airlines and hotels may find their numbers lagging even after COVID-19 passes.
- Those office buildings filled to the brim with cubicles, employees, and office equipment? Much of that work now gets done from home at equivalent (if not greater) levels of productivity. Why pay for expensive overhead if you don’t have to?
- Even the medical profession is experiencing change. Once a pipedream, especially for those in medically underserved or rural areas, telemedicine is proving effective and popular for both healthcare providers and consumers.
Time to Master a New Skill
To participate more effectively in this new, virtual world, you’re going to have to acquire some new skills.
- If you’re not comfortable being recorded, you’re going to have to become so. Most meetings are recorded, not for posterity’s sake, but so they can be re-watched and distributed to those who could not attend live.
- If you freeze up in front of the camera, even if it’s just a webcam, then you need to do the work to overcome your virtual stage fright.
- If you tend to ramble and deliver convoluted explanations, find ways to tighten up your tongue. Keep it simple and concise or else you run the risk of losing your audience.
- If you’re not particularly tech savvy, take time to learn the basics of whatever virtual communication tool your company is using. From Zoom to Microsoft Teams to numerous other videoconferencing platforms, you need to know how to login to meetings, turn on/off video and audio, share files, share your screen, and even troubleshoot when something goes awry (and you know it will).
Going forward, it seems that those of us currently in professions where being on-camera has always been the norm will continue expanding our lives in front of them, while many others who are relatively inexperienced with being in front of the lens will need to nurture new talents they never expected they’d need to master. Knowing how to optimize the way you look, act, and speak on-camera is now an important and necessary skill.
Learn More: On-Camera Coach
If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.