What Is Virtual Hygiene? Online Meeting Best Practices from Matt Abrahams


Remember back when we were first working from home during this pandemic, like 46 weeks ago?  We were happy just to unmute at the right times and share our screens correctly.

Now that video virtual meetings have become our de-facto way of meeting, presenting, selling and even negotiating with each other, the bar is significantly higher.

Thankfully there are experts who have thought a lot about this, including Matt Abrahams from Bold Echo.  In a discussion during our CMO Coffee Talks meeting last week, Matt outlined three categories and numerous best practices for improving your presence and impact via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, ON24 and any virtual presentation platform.

Virtual Hygiene

  • Get the lighting right: Even placing a basic table lamp in front of you will improve the lighting on your face.
  • Invest in a decent microphone: They can still see you with a mediocre video camera, but you’ll be better understood if your audio is crisp and clear.
  • Casual is OK, sometimes: People are more willing now to have casual meetings and even distractions, just recognize when a meeting needs to be taken a bit more seriously to avoid some of those distractions.
  • Be conscious of your background: Ensure that what’s behind you in the video isn’t a distraction (this includes funny virtual backgrounds which Matt isn’t particularly fond of).

Virtual Presence

  • Look at the camera: It’s weird and unnatural but makes a difference when you look them in the eye. Put something right above and behind the camera if it helps, or put the other person’s video right under the camera to cheat a little.
  • Vary your voice: Using different intonation is proven to keep an audience engaged.
  • Stand when presenting: This gives you more energy and focus.

Virtual Engagement

  • Audio & video expectations: Make it clear to your attendees that you expect cameras to be on and audio will be pre-muted.
  • Start with an icebreaker: Especially if it’s a group not used to meeting together, have a quick question for everyone to get to know each other, and to get people interacting/talking from the get-go.
  • Get right to work: Minimize chit chat to maximize everyone’s time. We’re especially prone to distraction in online meetings so efficiency is key.
  • Use the advanced features: This includes chat, polls, even the breakout rooms.  Interactivity will also keep your audience engaged and productive.
  • Send people elsewhere: Associated links to collaborative documents, external whiteboarding tools, etc. can increase productivity as well.

If you’re a marketing leader in your organization I’d like to invite you to our CMO Coffee Talk series, presented by 6sense and Heinz Marketing.  It’s an informal but highly engaging drop-in interactive Zoom meeting Fridays at 8:00 am Eastern and another at 8:00 am Pacific.

Think of it as coffee with CMOs – you can participate actively or simply watch and read what others are thinking.  Get registered with a hands-free calendar invite here.