Video and online meetings are the new normal
Times like these, in which we have to work much more from home and be chained to our homes, ask for a new way of communicating. Everywhere around you, you hear and see what is happening: online meetings are being organised, coffee is being drunk and bubbled through Zoom or another platform. We are becoming more and more creative when it comes to promoting our company.
Never before has social media been so overwhelmed by videos about the ups and downs of people and companies.
Corona or not, the need to share experiences, events and feelings is more than ever before.
The development of video continues, research shows that by 2020 as much as 82% of all online traffic will be 'captured' by video.
Below, I share with you the six most striking facts about video in 2020:
* No less than 45% of the world's population currently watches video on social media. Particularly Facebook and YouTube, for at least one hour a week.
* Videos are shared 1,200% more on social media than photos and text.
* 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after seeing a video about it.
* 90% of video viewers say that video helped them to make a decision about buying a product or service.
* If your video is included in your email marketing, 63% of the time it clicks through to the website.
* Only 9% of smaller companies engage in video marketing, leaving much of the market behind.
These figures make it clear that video is no longer an ‘odd man out’. In fact, video has become an integral part of the way we communicate with each other.
Zooming, Skype, Teach... we don't turn our hand to it anymore. Whereas some time ago we still frowned when hearing the names of some of these platforms, now we find it the most normal thing in the world to catch up, and to consult through screen. Changed circumstances (like now because of the Corona virus) make us resourceful and help us across barriers.
Just by looking at myself, I spend about 10 hours a week in an online meeting or have facilitated one myself.
I regularly record a video for my digital platform about understanding body language and communicating with impact. In this blog I zoom in on video meeting. And I promise that the blog will be about video afterwards. Would you like to know more about that right now? Then go to my online platform and watch the e-course. "How do I get across on video?.
By now, most of us are well versed in the technology involved in an online learning environment. What I do often notice is that not everyone is well prepared for an online meeting. Someone doesn't get the programme 'up and running', so that they appear late in the appointment, or the setting in which a video is recorded isn't exactly a good choice, so that the video overshoots its target. That is unfortunate and unnecessary.
I understand that it is not easy or even a little strange for everyone to speak in front of a camera for the first time. And sometimes people are not aware of what they are radiating when they listen to someone else. Meeting someone for the first time is always a bit exciting and now that happens online it can be a bit extra stressful. Because of the unfamiliarity we then fall into our unconscious patterns, habits when it comes to body language and leave a first impression. Tension causes our instinctive brains to take over our ratio and so we don't always communicate effectively online. So preparation is key.
I would like to share with you a number of things we can do to come across as strong, involved and professional, also online.
Prior to the meeting.
Actually, it speaks for itself, but I will mention it briefly: come on time! Don't you know the platform to which you have been invited? Then log in in advance, it gives you peace of mind if you know how it works.
Make sure that you are behind your computer ten minutes before the start of the meeting.
Are you the one facilitating the meeting? Then send all participants a link with practical information/instructions the day before. This way, no one will have to wonder what the plan is.
If the meeting has a formal character, it is a good idea to send an agenda to the participants beforehand. It is nice to know what is being discussed and how long the meeting will last. Online meetings can sometimes get a bit messy if you don't create a clear structure. So don't let people talk through each other and clearly indicate when you are rounding off an item and moving on to the next one. Avoid endless discussions.
Are you giving a presentation? Then keep in mind that good visuals only support your words and that words or broad outlines are indeed needed here. People understand you better this way.
Sometimes it is useful or even necessary to share your screen with others. Make sure the presentation is already ready and keep support material at hand so you can switch quickly. Keep your desktop clean and close all other tabs, so no one gets distracted.
I always use a fixed internet connection when I make an image call. I put my phone, iPad and other devices far beyond my reach, so they can't distract me from what I'm doing.
And last but not least: test! If you do this beforehand and experience that it works well, you can remove any bottleneck from your list.
An online meeting
Prepare them well. Especially if you lead it on your own, you can avoid unnecessary stress.
Personally, I always make sure that I have a lamp or natural light in front of me and not behind me.
If you turn that around, the other person will look at a black shadow and your face will not look good. You are already losing some communication through the digital route, so try to make the circumstances as optimal as possible. For example, I bought a light ring for when a meeting is in the evening or when there is not enough natural daylight.
If you communicate through screen, it is especially important that you are not too close to the screen or too far away from the screen. As a body language expert I like to tell you that people want to see what you do with your hands. That ensures more confidence and safety. Hands, by the way, are a second channel of information for the brain and if they match the words, it creates double trust. Research from the highest visits to TED talks has shown that during the most successful TED talks there are up to twice as many hand movements to be seen.
If you want to make it even more professional, you can connect an external camera to your PC.
But, quite frankly, that is quite a hassle. You'd rather keep it simple."
Good sound is crucial
Very often you see people with ears in or with a headset on (with or without a microphone) talking on the phone. I use an external microphone and a headset. I don't always wear the latter, only when there are more people in the house.
During an online meeting I always close the door of my office. And yet I find that the combination of an informal and formal meeting can quickly turn into an online chat café.
Sound carries far and if you don't want to be heard up to three storeys above or below you, it's best to use earphones. Earphones with a microphone are fine by the way, at least if you make sure that the microphone is at the level of your mouth (and it doesn't look as if you are holding it by your feet). Even if there is some background noise, it is best to talk into a microphone.
If you are meeting with two people on one PC, make sure you are both close enough to the microphone so that you can both be heard clearly.
Tip: during a meeting with a lot of interaction it is best to let the people who aren't speaking mute themselves (then you won't be able to hear them when they talk) and the screen doesn't constantly jump. This prevents people from spontaneously shouting things, so that nobody understands each other and the meeting loses its essence.
And: make agreements mainly about chatting and telephone use during the meeting. It is really very annoying if participants check their Instagram or mail in between, or use the system's chat to constantly post messages. This distracts everyone.
A good mindset
Make sure you fancy the meeting. So enter into the conversation with a positive and open attitude. Is this the first time you are meeting through video? Then, understandably, that brings some tension with it. And yet, it's not as exciting as it seems. I often see that after a while people completely forget that they are sitting in front of the camera. By the way, that's not always a plus ... ��.
Lack of enthusiasm and a negative attitude have a great influence on our body language, our self-confidence and our appearance. I see this all too often around me.
You see more than you think. People are more aware of their body language when they speak than when they listen. For privacy reasons I can't share screenshots from my previous meetings but it would make it immediately clear what we can do better. Please keep it a bit decent and professional.
Just a few examples that I have experienced at first hand: supporting your head, a closed body language posture, fiddling with something, picking your nose, eating meals during the call and.... cutting your hair!
Really, it has happened! Not for nothing a funny virtual meeting bingo (check progressiondesigners.com) is going around.
The haircut was at a school meeting of one of my children. Fortunately, it was not a professional meeting, but still. I can tell you that I have already seen some things.
Earlier in this blog, I mentioned the importance of the hands. If you support words with your hands, then what you say comes across much livelier. You can also appear more powerful if you support certain words with a hand gesture. Don't exaggerate this. Too much movement and too big movements will also distract you. If necessary, use hand signals to ask for the floor.
If you have a tendency to rattle on, it is useful to make a stop gesture beforehand.
This can also work in the opposite direction. You should discuss this in advance, otherwise it will not be as respectful. Pointing fingers at the screen is also very aggressive.
In any case, body language can also serve as a guideline for the conversation here. It is very easy to see when someone wants to say something. If you want to say something yourself, just wait until the other person has finished his point.
Eye contact and sitting posture
Eye contact is not easy. Without direct eye contact the feeling of involvement and connection is a lot less. If you do not make eye contact you may even give the impression that you are not listening. I very often see dysfunctional eye contact during a video meeting. This is because we have a natural tendency to look at faces. Freely translated: we look at the centre of the screen and not in the camera. I myself am in favour of looking straight into the camera when the other person is talking.
Tip: make your frame wider by moving your computer a little further away. If your hands are in the picture, then you are showing just a little more body language.
I myself put my PC on an ergonomic laptop stand at eye level. This ensures that I don't look down. It also gives me a better posture and appearance.
Show your involvement through an active listening attitude. The sitting posture is important here. When speaking, make sure that you are not sitting back. Sit upright, lean forward a little, this way you radiate more self-confidence, involvement and pride. If you listen, you can sit more relaxed, but keep it professional.
Leadership and self-confidence
Leadership is mainly in the preparation, your non-verbal impact and your attitude during the meeting. Do you listen attentively? Do you notice anything? Are you not distracted?
Introduce yourself the first time you talk. That provides leadership, connection and self-confidence. Responding to body language can certainly also help. If you see that someone is not in the meeting at all, ask direct questions to increase involvement.
Create a professional look
A little make-up can do wonders and a little colour at the top of your body creates beautiful camera images. Just don't overdo it, with too much make-up, glitter, fake eyelashes and exaggerated accessories. It's all so distracting. The screen is small, so keep it quiet and neat.
Background and environment
I think it is logical that the background should be calm and tidy. Noise and toys lying around or a pile of laundry can be enormously distracting and distracting. Nowadays you can also set up virtual backgrounds. You can keep it interesting for the viewers. I already saw a lot of beautiful backgrounds. Be careful with your logo. Wear contrasting clothing colour with your logo if you don't want to disappear into your logo.
And make no mistake, the participants see and hear more than you think. Imagine: you are sitting in your pajama trousers behind your PC and you get up spontaneously to pick up something you can't reach straight away....
You definitely make an impression if you send some notes after the meeting, so keep your promises.
One thing I know for sure, after this blog, you no longer have an excuse not to shine online.
Want to know more about fathoming body language?
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I wish you lots of online impact!
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Good luck during the online meeting.