“All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Perception is reality. Our non-verbal cues can affect how others perceive our intentions, mood and character. When we present and communicate during virtual meetings, getting these right is critically important as they can influence your audience’s view of you. Consider these insights to make sure your non-verbal cues lead to better communication and collaboration in your virtual meetings.
Making effective eye contact is the simplest way to appear engaged and attentive during a virtual meeting or any type face-to-face communication. The manner in which we look at someone can indicate a wide variety of feelings such as interest, admiration, confusion or anger. During your meetings, be sure that you are looking squarely at the camera when speaking or presenting–especially during any questions or comments that occur. There is a fine balance to achieve because not looking enough could convey a lack of confidence, yet too much eye contact can make you seem too eager.
Our body posture communicates a wide variety of messages. Good posture indicates an air of confidence and openness with your audience. Develop a practice of sitting up straight with your shoulders, back and head facing forward, with your feet flat on the floor. Beware of poor body language habits such as crossing your arms, which is a visual cue that you are no longer interested in the subject or discussion at hand. Try bringing your hands together in your lap or on the table to show others that you are indeed attentive and open to what they are communicating to you.
A smile is a powerful tool to not only help put others at ease, but to also draw your audience in. Smiling paired with steady eye contact can have a profoundly positive effect when communicating and also generate further interest from your audience. Do make a point to avoid constant and forced smiling, as you may be perceived as dishonest or even a little unstable. Instead, employ a genuine, warm smile whenever the opportunity allows for it. Smiling reveals that we are fully engaged in and actually enjoying the discussions or presentations in our meetings.
Leaning In and Nodding
Leaning our bodies forward as someone is communicating with us demonstrates that we are actively listening with deliberate intention. This can also help to make the speaker or presenter feel more comfortable and confident, which can lead to a richer overall conversation. Leaning away however, communicates that someone can be disinterested, bored or even resistant to the subject or conversation. In addition to leaning in, head-nodding can also express encouragement and engagement. It’s can also be a great way to show that you want to know more about what they are talking about. It not only encourages the speaker to effectively continue, but they are also able to directly recognize that you are invested in what they are saying.
Instead of simply relying on your words to get your points across, illustrate them fully by using gestures and movement. Get into the habit of slowing down your gestures and body movements during your meetings. This will make you appear more confident and calm, and when applied with purpose, authoritative. Be conscious to not make quick movements or rapid gestures that will make you seem jittery or uncomfortable in the situation. Applying the right gestures and movements when appropriate can serve to greatly strengthen your points and portray you as a very effective speaker.