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  • Writer's pictureSimon Jones

How to influence in virtual meetings

Influencing is the key to making progress in your career and in business - but how can you ensure you still get your actions actioned when all interaction is now online?

There are a few basics to an effective virtual meeting; decent technology, maintaining concentration (stop looking at your phone, ignore the doorbell, make sure you’ve fed the dog/children) and considerate use of your mute button. Assuming you’ve got those nailed, you can now focus on how to have the most impact on your fellow attendees.

While at Harvard Business School I was taught that there are three distinct elements to influence - credibility, demonstration of the value position and building partnerships.

But in the real world there are conflicting views, different directions and priorities that we all have to consider. 

One thing is certain - issuing orders won't usually get results, however senior you are. The best influencers will demonstrate to people the benefits of changing the way they think.

Fortunately there are some simple principles to maximising your influence that apply to online meetings just as much as those in person.

Prep work

  • Start by looking at yourself and how well you think you do as an influencer and negotiator - then build on that. 

  • Get feedback on your influencing and negotiating style, hone in and know your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Don’t ever, ever, ever sacrifice a relationship just to win.

  • Do your homework. Know the least you can accept before you turn up – similarly, know what you have that others need and value.

  • Find out what you can about your meeting host - and their expectations - before the call.

During a meeting

  • Don’t be frightened to choose a different style that fits the particular situation (cooperation, enthusiasm, sensitivity or competition for example).

  • Turn your radar on.  Gender and cultural awareness can make a big difference.

  • LISTEN, always LISTEN. It's vital at any time, but during online meetings - when technology can cause disruptions - it’s more important than ever.

  • Don’t presume or make assumptions, ask the other party about their situation.

  • Identify, build and create common ground.

If you take these points into consideration you can put them into place for a formal relationship, a cold room or the negotiation of a multi gazillion dollar deal - whether that’s face-to-face or in an online meeting. 

And remember - every work environment is an opportunity to create contacts and influence. Right now, that means virtual interaction at the mercy of Wifi, but at some point we’ll be back at conferences, attending formal interviews and grabbing conversations on the stairs. So brush up on your influencer skills, and use them!

Make sure you put the dog out before having a call!


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