How to Read the Room on Zoom


How do you read the room on Zoom?

I was asked this question by one of my coaching clients who wanted to transform her influence, to get the promotion she sought.

I’d previously shared with her that in addition to projecting gravitas and confidence, executive presence means, reading the room.

The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle wrote, that in order to influence, we need pathos. Pathos gives us the English word, empathy, meaning the ability to understand the feelings and motivations of your audience. This is what I mean by reading the room.

Pitching your idea, or presenting information without knowing what state the audience is in or what’s important to them, is like driving on a freeway blindfolded.

So, how do you read the room, and how do you do that in a Zoom, or Teams environment when many participants have their cameras off?

Well, if you are still listening to me, then I already know something about you.

You are curious and open to learning. You are ambitious and want to improve your influence.

I know these things without seeing you, meeting you, or being able to ask you questions. I know these things from your behavior, and behavior is driven by feelings, wants, and needs. 

To read a room, we must pay attention to the behavior of the people in the room, and those behaviors are evident, even before the meeting starts. The more you can notice what people say and do, and how they say and do, the more information you have to build your influence capital. 

Influence capital, which I define as the currency to get to, “Yes” is something that can transform from someone who carries out orders, to someone who is part of the decision-making about what those orders should be.

I helped my coaching client to map the behaviors of the key players, before the meeting, and I helped her to identify the key signals in the meeting. When you know what to look for, you can find out what people, feel, believe, want, and need, even on a Zoom call.

To find out more, check this video

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