Tips for Top Virtual Meetings 6 - Body Language & Presence
You might think body language is less important to presence in the virtual environment, after all people can only see your head and face, right? Read on…
Positive, confident body language raises your presence in the real world and also virtually. If your body language suggests a lack of confidence or enthusiasm; fatigue; lack of interest or arrogance then you will not have presence and will not engage people whether you are standing in front of them, sitting with them around a table or interacting with them via a screen.
What do you need to be aware of?
Sit back a little so your upper chest, shoulders and head are visible. Often people sit right up to the camera: this can be overwhelming to other people, a bit ‘in-your-face’, but it also limits your ability to radiate presence. You need space around you to have presence. When you are talking to people in a room, you can radiate the most energy, the most presence if you are standing up in a space in front of them. If you sit down with a table in front, you have lost half the ability to radiate energy and presence, you are blocked by the table! To create the space on virtual platforms you need to sit back a little.
Sit tall and inclined ever-so-slightly forwards: sit either on the edge of your chair, ‘perching’, or with your bottom right at the back of the chair. Raise yourself from the crown of your head and be ‘poised’. This is far more positive and confident looking than leaning on your arms into the camera, or leaning onto the back of your chair. Try not to use the back of your chair when you are speaking.
When you are speaking, use your hands naturally, even if they can’t be seen. Hand gesture adds to your energy and transmits vitality to the voice.
Make sure your face is involved! Something about looking at a camera often causes faces to freeze. Before you enter the meeting smile a few times to yourself to warm up the muscles in your face, or even better pull a few weird and funny faces (on your own!). When you speak, try to imagine you are looking at a human face through and beyond the camera lens. Consciously have ‘check-in’ smiles from time to time as you speak (at an appropriate moment of course). Maybe write ‘smile’ on a post it note on your laptop? When you are not speaking be mindful of your facial expression!