How's your video conferencing body language?

Posted by: Schepisi - Monday, October 13, 2014

Ever noticed a close friend acting odd? They avoid your eye, fold their arms across their body, furrow their brows and are tight-lipped. 

They’re the cues that tell you something is up. When you ask, they say they’re “fine” – the word that loses all meaning when you compare it to the ‘way’ they’ve said it. 

It’s astonishing how important non-verbal cues are in determining someone’s current mood, attitude, or feelings.

Read these video conferencing body language cues

The same goes for your working environment, particularly during video conferences, meetings, and interviews. 

If you’re new to video conferencing, the first thing you must remember is that a video conference is just as professional as a face-to-face meeting (with the added advantage of saving travel time and reducing travel expense - more about that here!)

Some say that 93 per cent of all communication is non-verbal. Many argue that point, saying that 93 per cent is too much; an exaggerated figure. 

So, to please the masses, we’ll passively stick with the general statement that much of what we communicate comes from body language and tone of voice, as well as the words we speak. 

Are you reading the video conferencing cues? 

Consider how the following non-verbal cues affect your instant opinion of someone in an everyday setting... 

Eye contact:

Possibly the most important non-verbal cue during a video conference. While video conferencing is a stand-out way for businesses to conduct meetings, such a small misstep can affect your audience’s perception.

It’s tempting to watch your screen – so yourself and your guests – on the computer when you’re talking, but to those on the other end of the video, you’re looking slightly downward. 

Make sure you’re looking directly into your computer’s camera to ensure you create that eye contact bond.

Remember to blink, though. (Don’t be the creep that stares!) 

So, how important is eye contact? A lack of eye contact can be interpreted as: 

> Self consciousness 
> Shyness 
> Lack of trust
> Deception
> A defence mechanism 

Good eye contact often translates a friendly, confident, warm, honest, engaged and sociable personality. 

Phew! If that’s not enough to encourage you to think about your body language, then please - read on! 

Keep a natural yet professional posture: 

This one’s a little tricky. 

You probably assume the answer here is to and ‘sit up straight!’. Sitting up too straight, though, can project a feeling of nervousness and discomfort, as well as looking pretty awkward! 

But how can you strike the balance between relaxed and professional? 

A great tip is to read a newspaper before your interview. The way you sit up yet slightly forward will set you up for the meeting. The neutral posture with the slight bend shows engagement, and is a much better look than that slumped kid on the train hunching over his smartphone. 

Speak with a smile:

Not only does it make you look friendly and engaged, speaking while smiling livens your voice and saves you from falling into that dreaded monotonous drone.

Show that you're engaged: 

A motionless figure conveys boredom and a lack of engagement, and while that mightn't actually be the case, that’s the way it could be interpreted - not ideal for that job interview! 

Show that you’re engaged and interested with slight sporadic nods (but avoid “nodding dog” syndrome!), head tilts, and forward leans. Just don't over-act!

Show that you're engaged during your video conference
Don't be this kid: how many of you have nodded off during a conference call?

Furrowed brows:

Many people find themselves furrowing their brows even when they’re not being spoken to. Sometimes it’s just a habit, particularly during an engaging, confusing or intense task or discussion. 

Most of the time you probably don't even notice you’re doing it! The very same happens to me.

What’s important here is that while your furrowed brow may convey concentration and interest, it can be interpreted as confusion or frustration. 

Remind yourself to consciously relax your brows and forehead, especially when you’re listening (rather than talking). 

Crossed or folded arms:

This is really not a good look, which is slightly disappointing if you’re just one of those people that just seems to find folded arms an incredibly comfortable way to rest! 

And normally, that’s okay. 

But in a job interview, meeting, or any other professional setting, it says that you’re closed right off. 

You’ve (perhaps subconsciously) created a barrier between you and who you’re speaking with that says you are closed for discussion and argument. A less aggressive interpretation could be that you’re vulnerable, insecure, timid, or withdrawn. 

What is the “digital handshake”? 

Use the digital handshake during a business video conference

Many people agree that there are ways to convey the professional action that is a handshake through video conferencing. 

An example we love comes from digital marketing technology executive Paul Bailo: he defines the digital handshake as a “slow, confident, professional firm nod with a slight shoulder bend and eyes forward”. This gesture conveys that the person is pleased to be there, is assertive, and is keen to begin. 

Wow. It’s quite astonishing when you think about how much you can say without even saying a word! 

For more information on Schepisi’s Video Conferencing solutions from Lifesize, visit our website.

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