“What are the business and professional challenges you experienced during this pandemic?” I asked this question during a talk at the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ annual convention. Most answers centered on slow internet connections, attending or running virtual meetings, mental health issues, working remotely, digitization challenges, and technological stress.
The answers were not surprising. Two years into the pandemic, it is still tough to adapt and adjust to new ways of working. The environmental pressures to adapt, however, are too huge to ignore. For one, total internet users in the Philippines have grown to 82.41 million this year, 8 percent up from pre-pandemic levels according to Statista. Active social media users, meanwhile, jumped to 82 million this year, a 9-percent increase. Filipinos also spend the longest time on the internet and social media.
These are coupled with the hybrid work arrangements of organizations and companies, which will make virtual meetings permanent. Digital platforms and social media have become indispensable tools to market professions. That is why professionals need to master digital media to maximize productivity and efficiency and one area is that of attending or running virtual meetings.
There are seven technical and tactical areas that must be considered:
* First is the conversation setup. This includes having the right bandwidth to sustain a meaningful virtual meeting. A decent speed to sustain online meetings is 20 Mbps. Given our domestic internet situation, it is necessary to have backup providers as services remain intermittent and fraught with downtimes.
* Second is the platform to use — Zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet, etc. Ease-of-use should be the primary criterion. It’s typically best to select software that most people are used to.
* Third is video. It’s best practice to use video for virtual sales meetings even if the other parties don’t have their video on. Seeing your face on the screen will help develop trust and rapport. If you’re organizing the virtual meeting, set expectations in advance with regard to using video by indicating so in the calendar invite.
* Fourth is sound. Prior to meetings, do a tech check. Computer microphones aren’t typically very good so invest in an external mic or a quality headset that has a noise-cancelling feature. Also, minimize background noises. Lastly, be conscious if you’re muted or not by always checking the mic icon.
* Fifth is lighting. Light evenly, with medium-to-light brightness. You can face a window or use an inexpensive ring light. Avoid backlighting and overheads that create dark faces and shadows. Always test your lighting.
* Sixth is the background. Prepared actual settings that are neat, clean, bright, and professional are always best and convey authenticity. Nice virtual backgrounds are also acceptable. Curate your look and scene to project your desired brand.
* Seventh and the last is you. Think “important live meeting”: Prepare your look and dress as if you were meeting in person. If you’re not sure, always dress up one level. Your look is a part of your brand. Remain approximately 1.5 to two feet from the camera. Think “TV news anchor” and adjust your distance accordingly.
Another aspect that we need to master is digital marketing. We can achieve this by starting with the creation of an informative website. A well-organized and attractive one will tell potential clients what they need to know about your firm.
Professionals also need to be active on social medial by building a presence on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Accounting and consultancy firms, in particular, can use these to raise awareness among potential customers, generate new leads and revenues, reinforce brand positions, and boost the reach of other marketing tactics. Writing useful blog posts and articles on your website and social media about topics that you know are relevant to prospective clients can boost your credibility apart from reaching more potential clients.
Digital mastery is the key to effectively adapt to the new world of work and maximize potential revenue in these trying times.
The author is the founder and chief executive of Hungry Workhorse Consulting, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is the chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines. He is a fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation and teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. He can be emailed at email@example.com.