In order to make the most of your time online, it’s important to consider the change in circumstance. For example, in person-to-person interactions we rely on body language to fully interpret what people are saying. But these often subtle cues are much harder to read onscreen, even if you have a great webcam and strong internet connection. So the key aspects to focus on are your verbal speech and visual expression, and the two need to work hand in hand to convey your message clearly.
Assuming you have already prepared what you are going to contribute to your next meeting, it’s time to focus on how you’re going to deliver it. Take a few minutes before signing on to warm up. (Note: if you’re self-conscious, you might want to find a secluded area like the bathroom or an empty conference room, somewhere where you can be free to move).
Raise your arms above your head, breathe in deeply, and exhale as you relax your arms down. Do this a few times to release any tension in your back and shoulders so you don’t appear stiff on camera. Next, warm up your voice and lips by making a ‘brrrr’ sound with your lips slack and rubbery. And when you are speaking during your online meeting, try to remember to speak from your chest instead of your nose or your throat. This will give your voice more weight and you will sound more confident and credible. Sound consultant Julian Treasure’s TED talk ‘How to speak so that people want to listen’ elaborates on the impact of these simple exercises and offers a demonstration; if you want to learn more about powerful speaking, I highly recommend watching it.
The next aspect you need to consider: visual expression. Because your audience can only see part of you, be mindful of how that part of your appearance is representing you. Little, almost unconscious behaviours such as crossing your arms, slouching, biting your nails, playing with your hair or gesticulating can send a mixed message to other attendees. Wear positive expressions to convey your attention, competence, and engagement in the meeting. Sit up straight, uncross your arms, maintain eye contact, and try not to gesture too much when speaking – this could be quite off-putting for your audience. But perhaps the most useful tip of all is to simply be as genuine as possible. Even via webcam, an authentic smile and real enthusiasm are near impossible to misinterpret. Far from being a necessary evil for global communication, videoconferencing can be an invaluable tool for your business.