Due to the pandemic, workers are adapting as interviews, business conferences, classes, and work have turned to virtual meetings. Your jam may have been firm handshakes that helped convey trust, create a positive rapport, and build confidence. Now you realize the importance of understanding body language from a virtual perspective. Challenges include meetings without video and limited views from the neck or shoulder up. Perhaps too much Zoom and dental work! Let’s give ourselves a break; virtually adapting isn’t the easiest. Jokes aside, let’s get going with a recap of Jeff Baird’s advice for improving your presence while on a phone or video meeting.
Overall, facial expressions, body language, AND voice are instrumental when appropriately used, which is why we’ll be going over Jeff’s insight on the following:
- Don’t Rush the Hello
- Body Language
- Trust Indicators
1. Don’t Rush the Hello
While it’s clear that facial expressions and body language matter, we don’t typically think about the sound of our voices mattering. What we do with our voice and how we say things is an integral part of non-verbal communication. It especially matters while in a meeting without video. View our event recording, as Jeff shares a Yale study determining whether people believe and trust you, merely from the sound of your voice. Long story short, the results for a happy or controlled voice were most favorable.
When using your voice, consider the following:
- Optimize your voice; don’t rush your greeting when first joining a phone or video meeting.
- Pause before you say hello and breathe to calm your nerves or stress from the fight or flight syndrome.
- Use the lower and natural end of your voice tone and speak on your out-breath to naturally lower your voice.
- Don’t forget to breathe on your out-tone to avoid a high pitch.
We can also include inflection-tone variances and vocal variance, including the volume of our voice.
- Use changes in the inflection of pace and volume by speeding up and slowing down on areas of your message that you want to emphasize.
- Adjust the types of inflections you put at the end of sentences based on what you’re communicating.
- You can end a question with an upward inflection (up-tick) with your voice going up at the end.
- When making a statement, adjust your tone down slightly for affirmation and assertion. Avoid an up-tick to make it unquestionable.
- You can also use volume for emphasis. Use a variety to avoid becoming monotone. A monotone voice can lead to boredom and deflects from building likeability from your audience. It can also water-down your message.
- Practice until it feels authentic, and you have the desired result.
2. Body Language
Body language matters because it comes through your voice. When properly used, body language or expressions can positively impact your phone and video meetings. We’ve all heard about the power pose and its benefits. Stand up and slightly stick-out your chest to see if it helps your voice’s volume and tone. In addition to the power pose, other non-verbal cues can help get you into the friend bucket and show that you’re attentive.
- Eyebrow Flash
The eyebrow flash is like a “What’s up!” Try giving a quick eyebrow flash, and if they mirror that, consider it a positive interaction. Don’t do too many in a row, as that can have another meaning. Besides, we want to build trust and rapport, so let’s keep our meetings professional and welcoming.
- Smiles and Head Tilts
The infamous and slight head tilt is a nonverbal way of saying that you’re listening. It’s an empathetic cue that feels softer, warmer, and builds rapport. Also, try giving a genuine smile for the most benefit when building trust. An authentic smile tends to extend into the eyes.
- Eye Contact
Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and for much of the time they spent it staring at their mobile? It appears their attention was elsewhere. Eye contact is essential. Understood; it’s unrealistic to only keep your eyes on your camera without the chance of missing chat cues and questions. However, we can draw as much attention to our cameras so that it looks like we’re giving good eye contact. If you’re forgetful, place a sticky note next to your camera to remember to look in that vicinity. This will help provide a sense of good eye contact with your entire audience.
3. Trust Indicators: Let’s See Those Hands
Did you know that our brains use hands as a trust indicator? At first impression, our brains are assessing everyone for potential threats. Are their hands in a fist, or are they holding a weapon? Imagine having a conversation with someone with their hands under the table or behind their back. It’s awkward and distracting until their hands are visible. A jury tends to see a person as more trustworthy when their hands are visible or on the table.
Better yet, let’s take politicians and their use of hands when giving speeches. Do flaying hands with directive finger-pointing or calling convey trust? A speaker in a TED Talks snip (sign-up to view it in our recording) shares the same message to an audience but uses three different movements with his hands. The audience was polled on their willingness to comply with each instance and the results are below.
- Palms Up: 84%
- Palms Down: 52%
- Pointing, Directive, Waving Hands: 28%
To improve interactions on a video call, the use of your hands is beneficial. Just make sure to get enough distance from your camera where your audience can see an open palm gesture. If you’re able, you can also try standing up and stepping back a bit.
Speaker: Jeff Baird
Jeff Baird is a certified body language trainer, goal hacker, hiring manager and the anti-boring corporate trainer. Jeff has also worked in IT and business intelligence for nearly 20 years. Jeff's approach is science-backed, applicable, and fun. Jeff will help you take control of your non-verbal communication, read others' body language and nail those stretch goals. Jeff is ready to help you break through your career or life plateaus.