The Art of Virtual

Are you a leader or manager working remotely for the first time?


In case you hadn’t noticed, leading teams of people remotely has been a growing trend in many national and international businesses. With the current social distancing policies, we are seeing healthcare leaders race quickly into the world of virtual leadership.


Here are some tips and tricks I have learned as my time as a virtual leader of a large national healthcare team:



Setting a routine cadence of communication in different forms helps to keep the relationships feeling grounded when remote. Consider:

  • Synchronous Video conference (ie WebEx or Zoom meeting)

  • Asynchronous Video conference (ie video message or webinar)

  • Phone

  • Email

  • Documents/slides/spreadsheets



While phone is easier and more familiar for most of us, video has POWER:

  • Your team sees your body language and sees you are calm and in control

  • You have a sense of eye contact that is missing on the phone

  • It is easier to have a conversation on video because you can raise hands, use chat box, etc

  • The team sees each other and it feels like a community

  • You can’t be texting, doing email, etc when you are looking at people on video

  • You can share screen as you are talking to illustrate your points or show how to do something

  • You and your team members can drop website links and other resources into the chat box

  • Messaging and tone are much easier via video (and much worse on email!)



Here are my practical tips and tricks:

  • Avoiding phone conferences and specifically asking people to join via video with the statement “it is OK if you are eating or drinking or just having a bad hair day, we still want to see you – it helps communication”

  • If you host the meeting, join a few minutes earlier and explicitly set the stage – how is the meeting going to run? Are you going to mute people when they are not speaking?

  • When people join the call and you are the host say “hi Jennie I see you have joined” so that people know you have seen them and don’t all jump in to talk right away

  • Try to have good lighting and look at the camera frequently – this may feel strange because you are not looking at the faces on the screen

  • Try to have good lighting and look at the camera frequently – this may feel strange because you are not looking at the faces on the screen

  • Use the grid setting so you see everyone’s faces in equal proportions and it does not switch back and forth with the speaker

  • Use the LOBBY function if you have video calls back to back – that way if people come early you put them in the lobby so they do not hear the other conversation

  • Use the chat box liberally, if the group is more than 4 people, let them know you prefer them to raise their hand or put the question in the chat rather than having them all speak at the same time (this happens because you can’t make true eye contact online)

Dr Jennie Byrne © All Rights Reserved