Body Language in Virtual Meetings
Author: Mike Scaletti
As the world continues to move back towards normalcy, there are definitely some things that will not be going away. Digital or virtual meetings is one of those things. Whether it's a virtual interview or a digital all-hands meeting, professional video chats are here to stay, and the ability to communicate effectively in them will be critical to your ongoing success.
One key to successful video communication is your body language. Your non-verbal cues and motions can either support or undercut the message you're trying to express, so it's important that you are aware of it. Fortunately, it's not hard to pick up the basics of effective body language communication, and the nature of video chats makes it even easier.
Making (Digital) Eye Contact
Our natural inclination when talking to someone is to look at them, and for good reason. Making eye contact with your conversation partner is a way to show interest and engagement with what they are saying. Unfortunately, that impulse doesn't work in video meetings. If you are looking at the person talking (or anything else on your screen, including yourself) it can actually appear to the other party as though you are looking away from them or are distracted. Instead, you should focus on your device's camera. Doing so gives the virtual impression that you are looking directly at the other party.
Be Aware of Your Posture
Because video meetings are often taken at home, it is easy to slouch or even lay down when taking them. This is especially true if you don't have a dedicated home office with a desk. It is important to remember, however, that sitting up straight and maintaining good posture will not only make you appear more professional and put together, it can actually signal to your conversation partner that you are interested in what they have to say.
Know What to Do With Your Hands
It's easy to be unsure about what to do with your hands in an video chat. Do you use them to talk? Do you keep them entirely off-screen? The key, in my experience, is to not become hyper-aware of them. Try not to fold your arms, and use simple direct hand gestures when speaking, the way you would during a normal conversation. Once you become overly aware, you can end up being very awkward about it, like poor old Ricky Bobby there.