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Why it’s important to limit distractions during online and in-person meetings

Have you ever found yourself distracted by someone’s virtual background, be it a cluttered kitchen or an unmade bed, to the point where their words become a distant murmur? It’s a common experience in the era of virtual meetings, and it highlights the importance of creating a focused environment for effective communication.

I’ve found one of the biggest distractions to be digital backgrounds. You’re an expert in your field, but when you put up that digital background, your hand goes missing… you lose your ear and chunks of your hair. I passionately protect our clients by begging them not to use filters, company logos, or pictures from their vacations as their background. I don’t want them to look foolish when a body part goes missing. In TV, an entire crew ensures the meteorologist is “keyed” correctly on the green screen. That’s how it’s pulled off so beautifully in the news. You don’t have that crew lighting you and ensuring your entire head is there. Just skip it and have an uncluttered background. Go simple.

Losing a body part because of a digital background is a big appearance blunder. One study I came across revealed a staggering 83% of people believe appearance blunders detract from a woman’s presence, while 76% feel the same about a man’s.

Audio distractions are also issues. A tequila company contacted me,
wondering why their national radio interview wasn’t helping them sell their product. As soon as I listened to it, I knew. Their big-name NHL star spokesman talked while walking through a bustling downtown with sirens blaring and cars honking. His phone notifications were also going off! His message was lost, and the audience was left completely distracted.

Years ago, I saw another big miss. This one stuck with me so much that I still use it as an example. A mayor was on Good Morning America touting her city’s accomplishments. However, her distracting rings clashing against a coffee mug overshadowed the positive message she was conveying. The lesson here is clear — eliminate distractions to ensure your audience remains focused on your message, allowing them to remember and appreciate the meaningful content you deliver.

Mastering the art of distraction-free communication involves being mindful of your virtual environment, maintaining a professional appearance, and eliminating potential disruptions. As you navigate the virtual realm, these principles are key for leaving a lasting impression on your audience.