Learn how to command virtual meetings. They may be the only opportunity many people get to form an opinion about you. Consider that you may be meeting with a future boss, customer, business partner, or even a spouse!
Master Your Virtual Presence
Master the image and authority you convey in virtual meetings. Today, video calls may be the only opportunity many people get to form an opinion about you. Consider that you may be meeting with a future boss, customer, business partner, employee, or even a spouse!
Use the Screen Space
In the remote business world the screen is our stage. Fill up at least half of it with your image, showing yourself from the armpits up. Leave just a little bit of space above your head. Your eye level should ideally be kept at the same height as the key person in the meeting, indicating empathy and peer status.
Lean away from the camera and you’ll signal reticence, discomfort, and insecurity. Lean into the camera to show interest, excitement, and eagerness to engage.
Remember that motion gets attention, so use hand gestures when you are speaking, sweeping your hands into frame in a position that is higher than is normal in face-to-face encounters.
Body language in virtual meetings is important to pay attention to because facial expressions, hand gestures and posture can help you communicate and collaborate effectively with colleagues, demonstrate attentiveness and reinforce trust.
Conversely, never use hand motions when others are speaking. It’s very distracting if not rude. Similarly be very aware of faces you might make in reaction to other speakers. It’s surprising how many presenters and sales people have not learned the basic discipline of a still expression while others are speaking. The only exception is nodding in agreement, which is almost always welcome and acceptable.
Use Your Voice
Your voice is a wonderful instrument, capable of creating drama and pathos, fear and excitement, sadness and joy.
Monotones create nothing other than boredom and rapid attention drift. Changes in pace, volume, and pitch command attention, bring life to your narrative, and add superpowers to your storytelling and persuasive abilities.
Every time you address an audience your mind, your body, and your voice act as partners in your effort to communicate with your listeners. When you speak, your voice is the primary link between you and your listeners. It is the medium of your message.
Try these exercises to develop understanding and command of your vocal abilities:
- Read a paragraph very slowly, over annunciating every syllable. Speed up your rate of deliver until you are saying the words as fast as you possibly can. Then vary the speed within the same sentence, going from slow to rapid fire for emphasis and effect.
- Do a similar exercise by varying the volume. When you whisper people lean forward and pay attention. When you shout, pay attention and jump back.
- Repeat, only changing the pitch from low to high and back.
- Combine all three vocal variations, using all of them at the same time in combinations.
If you want to communicate Opera singers, actors, and musicians go through similar exercises to master their expressive capabilities.
A four person team was presenting to us for the third time, trying to close a significant deal. About 10 minutes into the presentation we stopped and politely asked some pointed questions.
The lead presenter hesitated. The other three team members were looking around, avoiding my gaze, looking terribly uncomfortable. It was obvious that their solution wasn’t a good fit. Without hesitation we killed the deal.
Similarly, after a US Cabinet Secretary was asked a tough question in a video meeting, he leaned back in his seat, away from the camera, and answered in a quiet monotone. Without saying a word, he let everyone in that meeting know that he was not fully in-line with one of his boss’s policies.
Be aware that your facial expressions and body language convey a ton of information. Most of the time they should be in-sync with your voice, which is saying “I’m enthused and excited about this project and team!”
It’s great practice to enlist a colleague or a family member to do test run throughs. Prep them to ask hard questions so you are prepared for meetings that count! Record and analyze these role playing sessions. You will be surprised to see what unintentional signals and “tells” you are conveying to your audience.
Kids between three and six years old have notoriously short attention spans. If you can hold the attention of a remote 4 year old for five minutes, you are exceptional. Holding adult attention is a piece of cake in comparison.
We recommend remote storytelling to 4-6 year olds, an age group with a notoriously short attention span. It’s a great way to develop your best virtual storyteller, to learn the pacing, inflection, volume and facial expressions that captivate audiences of every age. It’s wonderful fun! And if you can keep a remote four year old engaged for 5 minutes, you will do fine with adults.
Alternatively, reach out to our team. We’ll assign one of our success managers to you for a ten minute presentation review. No charge, no obligation, never spam. It’s always a pleasure to help people refine their online presentation skills. Reach out to us!