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3 things you must do to be more engaging on videoconferences

Connecting with an audience through a screen

Connecting with an audience through a screen

Most of us have switched to working primarily online since March, and the initial excitement of virtual happy hours is long gone.

When having a video conference, keep in mind that you are talking to a group of individuals who are sitting at home alone at their computers. They have every temptation and opportunity to multitask.

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3 things you must do to be more engaging on videoconferences

3 things you must do to be more engaging on videoconferences

https://www.fastcompany.com/90521943/3-things-you-must-do-to-be-more-engaging-on-video-conferences

fastcompany.com

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Key Ideas

Connecting with an audience through a screen

Most of us have switched to working primarily online since March, and the initial excitement of virtual happy hours is long gone.

When having a video conference, keep in mind that you are talking to a group of individuals who are sitting at home alone at their computers. They have every temptation and opportunity to multitask.

Sharing stories

Connect with your audience from the start by sharing a relevant story and asking for their participation.

Choose a story that is more personal than you would tell in a regular work setting. The barriers between work and life are coming down and you can use that to your advantage.

Large vs smal online audience

  • If the group is small, ask a question from the start and turn your presentation into a conversation.
  • If the audience is large, bring audience members together through polls, “raised hands” in response to yes-or-no questions, and the chatbox.

Projecting energy through a screen

Your main tools to project energy through a screen are vocal variety, hand gestures, facial expressions, and posture.

Raising and lowering your voice, changing your tone, speeding up and slowing down are great ways to keep an audience listening.

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  • Speak slowly. Visualize the slow, emphatic tone of a judge delivering a verdict.
  • Pause. Those who show confidence often pause for a second or two between sentences.
  • Drop intonation. Lowering the tone of your voice at the end of a sentence sounds confident. You can even lower your intonation midsentence.
  • Check your breathing. Try not to breathe through your mouth as it can make you sound breathless and anxious. Instead, inhale and exhale through your nose.
  • Smile. Smiling projects more warmth in your voice. It's even worth doing when on the phone.
The high imagery speech

The use of imagery increases charisma.

Research shows that a high imagery speech resulted in higher ratings of charisma that a low imagery speech.

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Eye signals
  • Eye gaze: Directly eye contact indicates interest and paying attention. Prolonged eye contact can feel threatening.
  • Blinking:  People often blink more rapidly when t...
Lip signals
  • Pursed lips: an indicator of distaste, disapproval, or distrust.
  • Lip biting: signals people are worried, anxious, or stressed.
  • Covering the mouth: used when people want to hide an emotional reaction.
  • Turned up or down: When the mouth is slightly turned up, it might mean that the person is feeling happy or optimistic. A slightly down-turned mouth can be an indicator of sadness/ disapproval.
Gestures
  • A clenched fist indicates anger in some situations or solidarity in others.
  • A thumbs up and thumbs down: gestures of approval and disapproval.
  • The "okay" gesture: "okay" or "all right." In some parts of Europe, the same signal is used to imply you are nothing. In some South American countries, the symbol is actually a vulgar gesture.
  • The V sign: peace or victory in some countries. In the UK and Australia, the symbol takes on an offensive meaning when the back of the hand is facing outward.

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Misunderstanding body language

Contrary to popular belief, body language in the context of public speaking is more than hand and arm gesture.

It means adjusting the way we stand, move and smile to capture and hold the atte...

What puts an audience off
  • We indicate that we are feeling threatened when we take a step back or we show any sign of a closed body language.
  • Crossing our arms also shows nervousness and it puts our audience in a defensive mode.
  • Your end up showing that you feel superior to the rest of the room if you tilt your head backward.
Match your gestures to your message

Match your gestures to your words.
We are visual creatures, and any movement used in the right way in this direction will spark the attention of your audience. Just try not to abuse this rule.

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Steve Jobs' presentation style
  • A "Tweet-friendly headline" that summarises the product you're presenting: e.g.: "iPod: One thousand songs in your pocket."
  • Showing your passion: He acte...
Tweet-friendly headlines

Steve Jobs's intro sentences were so great because they clearly outlined what the product did while creating intrigue.

Rather than rambling on, he used them to perfectly convey his message as compactly as possible.

Examples of one sentence summaries of the product he was presenting: "Mac Book Air: the world's thinnest notebook", and "iPod: One thousand songs in your pocket."

Tailor to the audience

Whether you're networking or presenting, it's important to realize that it should never be a one-sided conversation.

Your audience is in the room for a particular reason. It's critical to understand why they're listening to you so you can tune your presentation in a manner that makes them more receptive listeners,

Prep with a power pose

2 minutes of power posing - standing tall, holding your arms out or toward the sky, or standing like Superman, with your hands on hips - will dramatically increase your confidence.

Try...

When the going gets tough, start smiling

Frowning, grimacing, glowering, and other negative facial expressions send a signal to your brain that whatever you're doing is difficult. That causes your brain to send cortisol into your bloodstream, which raises your stress levels. Instead, force yourself to smile. It works.

If you're confronted...

...don't back away; just shift to a slight angle - so you're standing at an angle--much like models who almost never stand with their bodies square to the camera.

And if you wish to appear less confrontational, approach the person and stand at a 45-degree angle (while still making direct eye contact, of course).

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Get To Know Your Audience

What’s most important to them? What motivates them? What’s their background? How do they prefer to communicate? What “language” do they tend to use?

By underst...

The “One Thing” They Should Understand

If something is too complicated, people are most likely to be confused by it, or worse, forget about it.

Ask yourself:

  1. If my audience will only remember one thing about my explanation, what is that “one thing?”
  2. And, why should my audience care about this “one thing?”
Give Context

The way you frame your information matters – the language, terms, and examples you choose to use will have a huge impact on what your audience remembers and understands.

So, paint a verbal picture. By sharing information, you make the problem tangible, and the solution appealing.

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Keep only the essential
Speaking to an audience is like feeding apple sauce to a two-year old. The more you spoon out, the more ends up on the floor. Include on the slides and in your spoken text only the informa...
Don't try to impress

The less you try to impress your listeners with your knowledge, the more they'll respect you.

Cut out specialized vocabulary and speak to your audience in their language.

Work from the outside in

Your posture, gestures, and facial expressions influence how you feel.

So stand up straight, weight on both feet. Keep your chin up. Chest out, Open up and smile. Those actions make you look and feel good.

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Why virtual meetings go bad
  • Attendees often multi-task and don't pay attention to the discussion.
  • Meeting organizers tend to be less careful with the purpose and design of the conversation.
  • Usual...
Run great virtual meetings
  • Use video, but also provide an audio dial-in-option,
  • Test the equipment you are going to use before the meeting.
  • Make sure people can see each other properly.
  • Set an agenda, set some rules and clearly outline the next steps.
  • Make sure presentations take very little time.
  • Set a facilitator and call on people individually to speak.
  • Capture feedback in real-time and tackle difficult issues.
Introverts and authenticity
If you’re an introvert, you don’t need to change your personality to develop leadership presence. You just need to learn a few skills.
Balance

Quieter people tend to make themselves small, tight. You don't have to make yourself large, just centered.

  • If you’re standing, get in a strong stance: put one foot slightly in front of the other to avoid swaying.
  • If you’re sitting, sit so that you are able to move forward, backward, and side to side without shifting your weight, leaning on your arm, or twisting your body.
Eye contact

You may struggle with eye contact and need to learn how to focus your gaze to build leadership presence.

But controlling your gaze is not about going eyeball to eyeball. You have to try and make eye contact with each person, for at least five second.

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Excessive sitting

Sitting for an extended period is linked with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and an increased risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

Excessive sitting may also slow metabolism, whi...

Just 30 minutes of activity...
... on 5 days each week (going to the gym, cycling to work, or going for a lunchtime walk) could prevent 1 in 12 deaths globally.

Injecting physical activity into your working day could reduce some of the health risks that are elevated by being sedentary.

Cycle or walk to work
  • Cycling to work has been linked with a reduced risk of death from all causes, and a lower cancer risk.
  • Both cycling and walking to work have also been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • People who walk or cycle to work have a lower body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage in midlife than those who commute by car.
  • Those who actively commute to work also benefit from improved well-being and report feeling more able to concentrate and under less strain.

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