3 Ways to Improve Nonverbal Communication on Video Meetings
As a result of the Covid Pandemic, we’re all doing a lot more video meetings both for work and to stay connected socially. Though we may be sitting in familiar surroundings (because we’re all at home), when we’re having a video chat we’re still presenting, and our viewers are watching our body language.
Here are 3 Ways to Improve Nonverbal Communication.
1: Ditch Distractions
Often when we’re on a video we’re waiting for our turn to talk and are paying less attention when others are speaking. Making your point clearly and concisely in a meeting is important, though it’s also important to listen to what other people have to say. If the other participants don’t feel like you’re paying attention to them, they won’t pay attention to you. If you’re part of a daily team meeting, this will become an issue.
Earlier this week I was on a Zoom video with some former colleagues I don’t talk to often. I found myself having side conversations in the chat with a number of them, then when it was my turn to speak and give everyone an update about what I’ve been up to, I wasn’t really prepared. I realized that I came across disengaged, and immediately regretted that.
When you’re on a video chat don’t be tempted to answer emails on your phone or check social media activity. Try to keep side conversations to a minimum. Stay focused on the conversation at hand and be present in the moment.
2: Maintain Eye Contact and Be Mindful of Facial Expressions
People can see you on their screen, make sure you’re looking back at them. Eye contact lets your audience know you’re engaged and paying attention to what they’re saying. It makes people feel important, and that you value what they have to say. This is especially important if someone has prepared something they are presenting in the meeting. Imagine how deflating it’d feel if you spent a couple of hours preparing to present an idea on a video chat, you already feel self-conscious about speaking in front of a group, then look on the screen and see people aren’t even watching while you speak.
Taking notes is fine and a good way to retain valuable information. People can tell when you’re checking your phone, or scrolling through your social media profiles while they’re speaking…
Along with eye contact you should be mindful of the nonverbal cues your facial expressions are giving. It goes without saying rolling your eyes is a sign of disrespect. A simple head nod and smile is encouraging for the person speaking. Raised eyebrows indicate you’re interested in what’s being said. Be careful of yawns. Even if unintentional, they will signal you’re not interested.
Maintaining eye contact and being mindful of your facial expressions lets everyone in the group know that you are present and engaged.
3: Pay Attention to Your Posture
Your posture tells your audience a lot about you. When you’re sitting upright and leaned in slightly, it shows that you are engaged in what is being said. If you’re slumped back in your chair it indicates you’re detached from the conversation and not interested. Crossed arms indicates you’re defensive or uncomfortable. Research shows that when people are sitting upright with their feet on the ground, they tend to have more positive thoughts in general, and present themselves in a better light. This holds true for in-person and video meetings.
Nonverbal communication is important in every social interaction, especially in interviews and professional settings. You’ve prepared what you want to say, and have a winning message! Spend some time thinking about your nonverbal communication as well, it will take your presentations to the next level!