Even great face-to-face communicators struggle in virtual environments. Virtual and face-to-face dynamics are simply different. To be successful in a virtual environment, you have to adjust your delivery to account for the unique challenges these settings present.
Have you ever participated in (or led) a virtual meeting that fell prey to one of these common fates? These meetings might have:
- Lacked focus.
- Strayed from the agenda.
- Been hijacked by a strong personality.
- Been met with negativity from participants.
- Fell upon multitasking ears.
If so, there’s good news. You can do something about it.
When you’re communicating virtually—without the benefit of face-to-face contact and visual cues—it’s even more important to keep your cool and amplify your energy.
Fortunately, these are communication skills you can learn. Here are some guidelines to help.
Master Your Composure
To sound and feel in control during a virtual meeting or call, you must remain composed at all times, even (or especially) when things go wrong.
Here are three ways to do just that:
1. Maintain Good Posture
Use an engaged, open posture to feel more relaxed and confident.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and your legs uncrossed.
- Sit straight and comfortably.
- Avoid shifting and rocking in your chair.
2. Use Pauses
Use pauses to stay in control and punctuate your thoughts.
- Breathe to stay relaxed.
- Avoid rushing, pace yourself, and enunciate.
- Eliminate clutter words like um, ah, so, right, and.
3. Use Eye Contact
Eye contact can help you feel more connected to your virtual participants even if you can’t see each other.
- If you’re using a camera, think of the camera as the person you’re talking to and speak to it as if you were having a face-to-face conversation.
- If you’re not using a camera, find visual targets to focus on. Put your meeting notes or participant log plus any supporting docs in front of you.
- Some people even put up photographs of participants and talk to those images.
Amplify Your EnergyWhen you communicate virtually, with or without a camera, you’ll find that you need to amplify your energy beyond what may be comfortable for you to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment.
Here are three ways to do that:
1. Gesture Purposefully and Use Natural Gestures to Emphasize Your Thoughts and Ideas
- While participants can’t see your gestures, simple arm movements generate energy in your body that helps punctuate your sentences and varies the intonation of your voice.
- If you’re using a camera, gesture more slowly and deliberately.
- Avoid clasping your hands, playing with objects, or making other nervous movements.
2. Speak Clearly, Keeping in Mind That Without a Camera, Your Voice Must Carry the Conversation
- Avoid jargon, slang, and acronyms.
- Look and sound as if you’re engaged and glad to be there.
- Keep your voice level up; don’t trail off at the end of your sentences.
3. Project Conviction, Using Your Voice and Language to Demonstrate Confidence and Emphasize Importance or Urgency
- Vary your vocal volume, speed, and pitch to match your content.
- “Paint” pictures with your words.
- Be assertive and avoid tentative language, like hopefully or maybe.
Better virtual delivery skills make for a better experience all around—for you and your colleagues or customers. When you master your composure and amplify your energy online or on the phone, you’re better able to:
- Keep your listeners’ attention.
- Elicit their feedback and involvement.
- Accomplish your goals.
For more tips, read this complimentary whitepaper, Best Practices for Virtual Presentations.