The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift towards a digital world, with more dependence on internet to do most things that used to take place normally in the past, including interviews and meetings. Video meetings have become an alternative for actual meetings.
As video meetins are different from face-to-face communication, try these six ways to engage your audience, be a vibrant speaker who excites—rather than bores—listeners.
Set The Stage
First, set the stage so that you are the center of attention. Avoid distractions or clutter.
This is such a simple thing to do, yet many speakers fill their backgrounds with everything under the sun. In a recent Zoom call, I found it challenging to stay engaged with the speaker, who surrounded herself with wall hangings, stuffed animals, colorful quilts, and a room full of furniture.
A cluttered space takes attention away from you. Keep your background clean, with only a vase of flowers or books neatly stacked on shelves.
Speak With Your Body
Second, use strong body language. Many people when speaking virtually do not think of what their body is saying.
They may turn their cameras off, rather than indicate they are actively listening.
The audience needs the speaker to be physically engaging. That can’t happen when the speaker’s webcam is off.
To use the power of body, begin with eye contact that is focused directly on the camera. Do not drop your eyes or look around the room, or you will appear disengaged. Eye contact is one of the best ways to create an emotional connection with your audience.
Be aware of facial expressions. Speaker should check themselves, for any telltale signs of negativity in your face. They should also avoid flipper gestures (with elbows locked into your sides). And avoid busy wrist gestures. And never fold or cross your arms, or you’ll be creating an emotional distance between yourself and your audience.
Focus On Ideas, Not Information
The speaker should not meander or overload their virtual audience with too much detail. They should speak with a sharply focused set of ideas that reflect their thinking and move as quickly as possible to the conclusion. Studies show that employees prefer meetings that are no more than 15 minutes long.
Use Passionate, Collaborative Language
Draw upon the power of language to convey clear and compelling messages about your passion and collaborative leadership style.
Passionate language like “I’m excited,” “I am confident,” and “I know we can make this happen,” show enthusiasm for projects that are underway. Such verbal energy is contagious.
Collaborative language is also important, because it builds ties with listeners. When the speaker says “let’s hear what you’ve been up to,” or “tell us how that project is coming along,” or when you refer to “all of us here today,” they are closing the digital divide.
Speak With Energy
As a speaker, your job is to bring great energy to the virtual room. A speaker’s energy is what makes people want to be around them, work with them, and follow them. So keep energy at a high level; do not disengage or fall into silence or long pauses.
Reinforce Other Participants
Reinforcing the thoughts or opinions of other participants will help others to see you as virtually vibrant.
Use expressions like, “That’s a good point. I agree that we should pursue this next opportunity.” A speaker might close a meeting with, “Thank you all for your contributions.”