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Okay Zoomers, it’s déjà vu all over again. But virtual communication is part of life now, and hopefully the basics are now familiar enough to really start finessing your skills. Communicating remotely is hard - that infinitesimal audio delay, the lack of eye contact, the self-consciousness of hearing your own voice in your headphones. It’s like Valentine’s Day when you have kids: there’s always little things getting in the way of your connection. Here's a reminder of some quick tactics that can help keep your virtual audiences engaged.
The key to improving your business virtual communication skills is this: connection is more important than content. The vital ingredient in your engagement with other people is yourself and your energy – your tone, your enthusiasm for your topic, your authenticity. You are what brings meaning to your content – otherwise you could just send an email or a spreadsheet. For once it really is all about you. So how can you make sure you’re bringing your best virtual self?
5 Tips for Better Virtual Communication
- Accept that there’s a limit to what you can control. The weather, the lockdowns, your Zoom connection, how loudly your colleague can eat a potato chip. Seriously, is your mouth an acoustic cave, Nigel? Are we going to have to line it with soundproof bats, Nigel? Because Imma do it, Nigel, I swear to... Where were we? Right, technical difficulties. Have a plan in place for dropped calls, such as a time limit for reconnection attempts, and make sure everyone has email and text details so you can reschedule quickly if needed. For a time-dependent encounter, line up a backup platform in case yours falls over mid-meeting, and make sure Nigel has finished his chips before you start.
- Look into the camera when you present, not at the screen. It might feel weird but it looks like eye contact to your audience. Put a photo or even a mirror next to the camera so you can present to something human. Do check in with your screen though, just in case something meme-worthy has gone wrong without you noticing. Not a sad kitten? Good, proceed.
- Keep your physical energy alive. If you’re wanting to engage and excite your audience, consider standing up – it keeps your breathing open and your body more alert. Put your camera at eye level, because tilted up is just a virtual tour of your nostrils. Keep your gestures to a minimum unless looking like a Tik Tok dance is an important part of your argument. Actually, consider making a Tik Tok dance part of your argument, we could all use the laugh.
- Background and lighting is important. By now we’ve seen everybody’s curtains. We’ve seen the curated bookshelves and shonky greenscreens. We’ve seen your kids, the proudly unashamed bottoms of cats, nude flatmates on their way to the shower or possibly just the couch. A suitable backdrop for your remote calls helps your colleagues focus on you. Face a window rather than have the light behind you. You, lit well, dressed appropriately, ready for your close up.
- Vary your tone of voice - especially important if you’re presenting. We’re used to tuning out boring or unvarying noises – that’s why TV ads shout at us, or use music we used to like until it was on a TV ad. Keep a natural, lively tone. Don’t eat on camera. No one needs your chips in their headphones, Nigel.
Call On Me
We’re here to support you in your virtual communications. Our webinars on virtual communication are available to watch again here, and our thoughts on the pitfalls and opportunities of virtual business communications are here. Our training programmes, both group and one-on-one courses, are available virtually. So let’s connect!
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