Preparing your space
Clear clutter and find a space with minimal distractions: Not everyone has an office space to retreat to for virtual meetings at home. However, creating a space that is decluttered, neat, and free of noise is important both for your own comfort, and for minimizing distractions to your colleagues. When that is not possible, using an artificial background and the “mute” function can be of help!
Find a comfortable chair: If you are spending long hours working at home and on virtual meetings, investing in a comfortable chair can make a big difference. In some cases all you need is a cushion!
Place a light source in front of you: Unless your space has a lot of natural light, placing a light source in front of you (e.g. lamp) can make a huge difference in how you appear on the screen. Your image will appear a lot brighter and clearer, and that helps “humanize” you on the screen.
Adjust your camera to eye level: One of the issues with virtual platforms is the inability to establish eye contact with others. Adjusting the camera to eye level (e.g. by adjusting the height of your chair or the surface your device is on), helps approximate that eye-to-eye contact position we are used to in face-to-face interactions. It is hard for someone on the other end to connect with you, if they only see half of your face or if you seem to be staring at the floor or ceiling!
Preparing yourself before a meeting
Take a couple of minutes to ground yourself: Allow yourself a few minutes to settle in and be present before the meeting starts. Perhaps engage in a brief breath awareness or 5 senses meditation or close your eyes and take a few deep, conscious breaths. Setting an intention for the meeting, is another way to be a more mindful participant. Feeling relaxed and grounded before you enter the meeting will not only help you to be more focused and at ease, but your calm energy will carry through to others.
Lead a grounding practice for everyone: If your colleagues are open to it, you may all begin the meeting with a couple of minutes of silent/guided meditation or mindful breathing. The more people engage in such a practice, the better the overall energy going into the meeting!
Staying engaged during the meeting
Leave the camera on: If your intention is to connect with others and to be fully present to what is being shared, leaving the camera on is essential. Not only does it feel unnatural for the person sharing to be doing so with blank screens, but also there are many non-verbal clues that get missed when the cameras are off.
Notice your colleagues: On screen, we have a tendency to look more at ourselves than others, which is not the case under normal circumstances! Tuning in to others (especially the ones talking) helps establish a connection online. Instead of observing yourself, look at your colleagues and try to notice their body language, their voice, and their energy. Although we are not physically present with everyone, the energy and group dynamics can be felt through the screen!
Tune in to Yourself: As opposed to looking at yourself, tuning in involves noticing any shifts in your body, thoughts or feelings as you are taking in what is shared. Taking note of such internal shifts can help you better understand why you might be reacting in a certain way, and how you can use that information towards a constructive response.
Find an anchor to come back to: When you find yourself feeling restless, distracted or fatigued, take a moment to re-ground. Re-grounding yourself during a meeting can be as simple as taking a moment to place your attention on your breath, feet or hands, or an object in your room. It helps to have a go-to anchoring object on your desk (e.g. a plant, a picture) as something to observe when you feel the need to re-ground yourself. Having something your can hold (e.g. a rock) can also be helpful.
Take a mindful movement break: If fatigue or restlessness is kicking in, you may either suggest a break or take a brief one yourself. Step away from your device and stretch or move your body. For example, practicing simple Qi Gong or yoga movements can help get your energy flowing again. As you are moving, notice the sensations in your body.