We’re getting off zoom calls exclusively and back to face-to-face meetings. For those of us who prefer in-person engagements or are experiencing zoom fatigue, it’s a welcome change. Getting back to in-person requires some practice to awaken our muscle memory and get us back to the top of our game. For some, being remote and on video is where they’ll stay, trying to move past the weariness. People often ask me how I prepare for days of meetings. These tips apply to any face-to-face meetings – up close and personal, at 6 feet, and remotely.
I’ve adopted this tip from experts including my singing coach Ethan Isaac at Factory Underground and Liz Gleadle, a Canadian Olympic javelin thrower and motivational speaker who kicked off an IIEXmeeting last year. A half hour before your meeting – it works for phone calls too – drink eight ounces of water to hydrate your voice. It’s common knowledge that we’re supposed to drink 8-12 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. It’s not as well known that we need to hydrate and protect our voices during the day. That’s why one of our 8-ounce servings of water should be 30 minutes before every meeting or conversation. A well-hydrated voice won’t crack or get scratchy, you won’t need to cough or clear your throat, you’ll have a wider range, and keep you in your best range without going too high. For extra energy, I add fresh lime.
Check your teeth
This tip comes from Paula Weiner, a C-suite executive recruiter. It is impossible to eat salad – or anything else for that matter, and not need to clean our teeth, no matter what color the food is. If you can brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush, your teeth will appear whiter, but if you’re on the go, a quick rinse or travel brush will do. Do you need to replenish your supply of Colgate wisps?
Check the rest of you too
Don’t just check your teeth; check your whole face with a magnifying mirror. It’s the only way you’ll see the toothpaste at the corner of your mouth. Comb your hair. Windswept is not a great look at a meeting unless you’re auditioning for certain movie roles. No hairs out of place – this includes eyebrows, that one long chin hair, and your nose and ear hairs. I can’t count the number of times people have been too distracted by a speaker’s nose or ear hair to listen and focus. Looking in a full length mirror is a must – shirt buttoned correctly, collars folded properly, even out creases. Clothes should be clean. Wear something memorable; it’s a great conversation starter. Dress appropriately.
Arriving at least ten minutes early for a remote or in-person meeting – more if we’re running the meeting or it includes a plane or train – is one of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves – and who we’re meeting. By arriving early, we arrive with our composure intact, with less stress, have time to do #1-3 above, and have a look around. I find the table I want to sit at, with the best seat for viewing the door and room. Arriving early usually means I have a chance to get settled and talk to people I may not otherwise have the chance to speak with. An early arrival means we can own the room and puts us in charge of the conversation. There is no need to have to start out with an apology or an excuse. While I arrive early, I give the person I’m meeting a ten-minute grace period remotely, and 15 minutes in-person. Either way, at the 5-minute-late mark I send a text to check on them to make sure nothing has prevented them from connecting.
Science has shown smiling is good for us; it makes everyone feel good. Smiling activates neuropeptides in our brain – dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin – that elevate our mood, make us feel happier, less stressed from head to toe, and help us stay positive. When we smile, we are sending a signal from the body to the brain that we are okay. We are more confident, approachable, and receptive to new ideas. Smiling is the most welcoming greeting we give each other and puts others at ease. It is the universal welcome. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”
Whether on zoom or out in the world, I’m looking forward to seeing – and smiling – with you.