Looking great in a live videoconference is a bit like sounding good on the phone…not everybody thinks about it, but everyone can improve when they are purposeful about it.
Last year I did a study of 1200 people about what they do in a videoconference setting and what they experience when watching others in the same setting.
What follows are five things videoconference attendees wish you’d take to heart.
Develop awareness of your virtual body language
The number one complaint of videoconference attendees was “distracting mannerisms or gestures.” Remember that a near-field camera (your webcam) may make your expressions more pronounced. Tip: Use a trusted friend to give you some feedback.
Eliminate distractions from your video conferencing environment
You want others to focus on you when you communicate. Study participants noted that they’re prone to look at things behind you (e.g., looking at the books on the bookshelf behind you).
Balance the lighting of your environment
What looks fine when you’re in-person may look odd on your webcam or camera. Examples include weird shadows that make your eyes look baggy or a light that shines off your forehead. Tip: If you can, face a window and take advantage of the natural light.
Make definitive “eye contact” when you make a point
Think about how a newscaster “draws you in.” They look at the camera. Videoconference participants don’t expect you to make eye contact with the camera 100% of the time, but if you want to improve the impact of a message, look at the camera, not your computer screen.
Learn to use enhance the experience with other tools
Part of the communication experience isn’t just how you look; it’s how you interact. Whether you use Skype or a professional tool like GoToMeeting, you’ll look like a pro when you add the extras to your repertoire. Example: Instead of telling someone to look at a website, show it do them from your desktop or “chat” them a hot link they can click on.
Roger Courville is author of The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook, blogger at www.TheVirtualPresenter.com, and an internationally sought-after expert in the human factors of live, virtual communications.