How to Feel Heard During Video Meetings

Sydney Russakov

Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn



Last year during remote work, I was dealing with imposter syndrome and had difficulty speaking up during Zoom meetings. I talked to many people within the organization about this, and it has been pretty standard among many others. I found it rather challenging to find my voice during remote meetings, which is unsuitable for PMs. I was starting to see this become more common among women than men in the company, and speaking up in large rooms can be intimidating.

Actions taken

A part of the whole process was to be blamed on remote work. You can get many signals from people in person, as a lot of our communication goes by our body language. When you sit at a desk or in a Zoom meeting, most parts of your body are cut off, making it hard to read the reactions. So, when we first started, I figured out that many people didn’t have the proper Zoom etiquette.

Usually, in a meeting room, there are many more interactions that make it feel more conversational. Among the bunch of faces on the screen, I found myself being one. Of course, it felt rude to mute or cut someone off when they were talking. When in-person, we can raise our hand or make a gesture to show that we want to be heard. Being more comfortable in jumping into conversations evolved me into second-guessing myself.

I started feeling that I did not get the opportunity to speak up as I wasn’t jumping much into those conversations merely because it felt awkward. No one was passing the baton, which is something that came into my notice. So, now that I conduct meetings and when I have the floor to myself, I pass the baton to ask others about how they are feeling. It could be their first time speaking up in a video meeting, but they at least need the chance to do so.

Someone I closely worked with dominated the meetings, and after a certain point, I talked with the person. It was an uncomfortable conversation, and I was slightly nervous about doing so, but others gave me a couple of pieces of advice to talk it out. I had a 1:1 with the person, and I did tell them that I was having a hard time finding my voice during the meetings and how I should be contributing. I also suggested whether they would be comfortable in giving me the autonomy to conduct meetings.

When I had the opportunity to talk in meetings, I would pass it on to someone else who would not, or did not, feel as represented in the discussions. I advocated for myself as well as for others who were on the same page as I was.

I found it a little difficult for me to find a mentor initially, but once I started talking to people, it became apparent. I started talking to women who got promoted from IC to a manager and people who had been in my position. Joining a “women in product” cohort made it easier for me to understand the dynamics.

Lessons learned

  • Talking about your problems helps a lot. It would be monumental for your personal development if you can find a mentor to talk to about these things. It normalizes the way you might be feeling while getting some actionable advice.
  • There are plenty of online and offline resources, and all it takes is a simple Google search. Don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to redefining your goals.
  • Stop questioning yourself. You are in your role because people believed in you.
  • Don’t be afraid of advocating for yourself, whether you are from your management chain or your peers.
  • Zoom calls can be pretty awkward. If you feel the need to jump into conversations, just do so.

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Sydney Russakov

Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationMentorship ProgramsCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionWomen in TechDiversity and Inclusion InitiativesOvercoming BiasIndividual Contributor RolesTeam & Project Management

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