For many of us, partaking in virtual business meetings has been a major adjustment. Body language and self-presentation are now more important than ever. While technology enables continued connection during this time, in-person exchanges are irreplaceable. Many business professionals are having a hard time making an impact and finding success through virtual means.
Whether you are interviewing, meeting with a client, or simply on a call with your team, here are some tips on how you can make an impression and find success in the virtual conference room.
First, it is important to be properly prepared when meeting via Zoom. Preparedness on Zoom is different than in person as you are no longer preparing your handshake or how to enter a conference room. Instead, being prepared for a Zoom meeting entails making sure your space is clear of distractions, and positioning yourself in a room that exhibits professionalism as to not distract your audience. For example, sitting in front of a solid wall, or in an office with minimal visual distractions in the background. It is also helpful to test Zoom before your meeting time to ensure that connectivity issues and any technical difficulties can be sorted out ahead of time.
It is also important to dress properly for Zoom meetings, meaning clothing with limited patterns. Patterns do not show up well on camera and can be very distracting. It is also worth noting that dressing for success is a real concept. Yes, this does mean changing out of your cozy pajama bottoms, and not trying to rock the business mullett (business on top, pajamas on bottom) and instead dressing as you normally would in the office. Research has proven that dressing professionally changes your mental state, increasing productivity and engagement.
In the same way that dressing for success can have a positive effect on your productivity and image on Zoom, proper posture has similar effects. Maintaining proper posture not only has psychological effects making you feel more confident, but it is the first impression that you are leaving with someone. Sitting up straight, facing the camera directly and not crossing your arms will help you look professional, confident, and open.
Another behavior that you may want to adjust for Zoom is refraining from using large and fast hand movements. On camera, these gestures can be very distracting. Hand movements are a great way to express yourself, just try to keep these movements small, slow, and within the camera’s view so that people can remain focused on the content of what you are saying.
When speaking it is important to be aware of the tempo in which you are speaking. While this is important in-person as well, it is especially important to speak slowly when meeting through Zoom. If you are wondering why, it has to do with a concept called “Zoom Fatigue”. Due to the lack of nonverbal cues that people generally rely on in person, people are forced to pay even more attention to any nonverbals they are receiving through Zoom. This is causing them to work harder and expend more energy in trying to discern the full meaning of what is being said. Therefore speaking slower and pausing more frequently between statements gives listeners the time to analyze, interpret, and understand the information being presented to them.
Lastly, eye contact plays a large role in connecting with those you are conversing with. In order to have proper eye contact through Zoom it is important to look directly at the camera on your device. While you may be tempted to look at the people on the screen to see their reactions as you normally would in a face to face conversation, this brings you to look down from the camera. Looking down from the camera can give those that you are speaking to the illusion that you are uncomfortable or lack confidence in what you are saying. It is important to try your best to look directly at the camera when speaking, checking only briefly on the expressions of those you are speaking with.
This eye contact with the camera also applies to those who are not actively speaking. Looking around the room, at messages appearing on your computer screen or at your phone is extremely evident to those you are meeting with. It is best to look directly at the camera so the speaker sees that you are also maintaining direct eye contact with them showing that you are engaged. Nodding along can also show that you are engaged and help the speaker easily identify that you are participating and understanding.
How you present yourself and communicate both verbally and nonverbally can be key to strengthening your virtual presence. Being mindful of your appearance and behaviors and consciously making these small, yet important changes can set you up for success in this new virtual environment.
See it’s not all Zoom and doom!