Executive Presence on Video Conferences
Part 2: Master Video Body Language
Video conferencing is a great way to coordinate remote workers to present trainings, deliver important information and engage in productive team discussions. However, virtual correspondence between several parties is not without its challenges, especially for the executive or leader in charge of the meeting. In this second article of a three article series, we will discuss how to effectively engage your audience using body language and by cultivating a professional image virtually.
Perfect the art of eye contact. Knowing the appropriate way to use eye contact on a video call will drastically improve your online presence. For informal meetings, perhaps with your immediate team in a conversation-based setting, it is okay to look at your screen where your team members' faces are when speaking. However, in a formal setting in which you are delivering a presentation to the group, practice looking directly into the camera lens while speaking, so it appears to your listeners that you are looking directly at them.
Learn how to use hand gestures on video. You might expect that your hands will not be seen by your audience, but oftentimes, hand gestures are easily picked up by your webcam when set up at an appropriate distance (capturing your upper torso and head). Hand gestures can add value to your delivery, so it is best to prepare as if the audience will see your gesturing. As with most types of communication, there are good and bad ways to use hand gestures. They can best be used to emphasize certain points, to emphasize size or quantity (“big” or “small”) and to visualize numbers (using fingers). Be wary of hand gestures that can deter from your professionalism: pointing at the camera, waving hands frantically, and crossing your arms are all examples of what not to do.
Use confident body posture. This can be achieved through a number of strategies. First, keep a good distance between you and the camera, positioning your whole head and upper torso in the frame. When presenting, sitting on the front part of your chair helps you keep upright posture and feel more alert and engaged. Remind yourself to keep a straight back, shoulders down and relaxed, and lean in slightly to stay engaged. If you are only a spectator in the conference, it is okay to keep a more relaxed posture, though you never want to be slouched down in your chair.
Consider your wardrobe choices. Some colors and patterns show up differently on camera than in person. Solid jewel-tone colors appear best on camera, versus neon or extremely dark colors. Floral patterns and stripes, as well as shiny fabrics do not translate well on camera. Simple cuts without too many frills — elaborate collars, buttons, etc. — appear most professional. Remember, you only need to be professional from the waist-up, but if you choose to stay casual on the bottom, ensure that your camera does not extend that far down.