“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are plenty of quirks of video meetings that we’ve all become more than a little used to. Kids wandering into the frame? An adorable interruption. A dog barking loudly at the delivery man? The UPS truck always arrives at the worst time. Paired your business button-up with your sweatpants today? Haven’t we all at some point by now?
There are some rules of video-call etiquette, however, that can be detrimental to our message when broken. Your body language, even over Zoom, can make all the difference when it comes to a successful client call or team meeting.
When you’re meeting with someone face to face, it’s easier to be aware of how you are presenting yourself. In the comfort of our own homes — especially when we might already be suffering from Zoom fatigue — we can find ourselves forgetting common courtesies.
Here’s what to keep in mind on your next call:
Be Sure to Smile
The start of a Zoom call can be chaotic. People are trying to set up their screens, connect their audio, and greet each other while navigating lagging cameras. The first thing you should do? Smile.
Unlike in a face-to-face meeting, your coworkers and clients can’t shake your hands or register any other welcoming body language easily in a virtual meeting. A smile is the easiest, most effective, and sometimes only way to let other attendees know that you’re happy to see them and ready to dive into the meeting.
Watch Your Hand Gestures
A study by Science of People revealed that the most popular TED Talks, including those that went viral, were those in which the speaker used more hand gestures throughout their speech than the average. Some of the hand gestures that can hammer home a point include:
● Open palms – Keeping your palms open while gesturing outwardly conveys honesty and trustworthiness to your audience.
● Finger counting – If you are conveying something that involves a specific number, try holding up your fingers to reflect that number. This anchors your point if you are going through several parts of a larger message.
● Visible comparisons – If you are trying to communicate an amount or a comparison of two different amounts, using the space between your hands to emphasize size or distance makes your point more memorable.
● Personal pointing – When communicating something about yourself, bring your hands toward yourself and touch your chest with your fingers. This conveys that the experience or message is personal to you.
Pay Attention to Posture
Like smiling, this one might seem obvious, but in the age of Zoom fatigue it’s easy to let some of the simple things slip our minds. Keep your posture open to communicate that you are receptive to what the other party is saying. Avoid crossing your arms in front of you by keeping them at your sides. You can even keep yourself busy taking notes to make sure you don’t absent-mindedly fall into a defensive-looking posture.
Other Signs of Engagement
There are other ways to show the people on the other end of the Zoom cameras that you are fully engaged with the conversation:
● Tilting your head – According to Forbes, tilting the head in order to hear more clearly dates all the way back to primitive tribes, where it was used to listen for signs of danger. Today the behavior is still a strong indication that you are listening to someone else.
● Leaning in – While pulling your head back is a sign of disengagement, leaning forward signals intentional listening.
● Sitting up straighter – Even though they can’t see your whole body, the people on the other side of the screen can tell when you are slouching. Just like in a face-to-face interaction, this can signal a lack of interest.
● Looking at the other speaker – We are all guilty of letting vanity get the best of us on a Zoom call. It’s OK to take a minute to fix a stray hair or straighten your collar, but make sure you are focused on the person who is speaking instead of on your own image or something off-camera.
When you communicate with intention, you can connect even through a screen. Treat your Zoom calls more like your face-to-face meetings, and you might find that even a quick call can turn into a productive lead.