This pandemic has pushed corporate America into a new zone: ZOOM (Teams, Webex, WHATEVER). Virtual is the new black, but looking and sounding professional on camera is not a natural transition for most.
So, with a full calendar of client meetings and big boss moments staring you in the face (literally), here’s how to make a MEGA connection without a physical one.
The prep work begins *before* you sit in front of the camera. Take 3 deep breaths to calm your nervous system & “center.”
You’ve got to bring BIG energy to this flat, one dimensional format! Studies show, listening to lively music or practicing power postures trigger micro-releases of testosterone aka energy.
Everything feels longer when you’re watching it on a screen. Keep your presentation simple & short. Human attention span is 8 seconds. Less than a goldfish. Don’t drown them with a deep dive. Two to three messages is sufficient.
Ask yourself, who is my audience and what story do I want to tell them? Your key messages should tell that story. Be sure to include colorful, relatable even personal examples to support.
Don’t adopt a persona on camera. You are not the evening news anchor you’re you! Authenticity breeds connection. Be conversational. Put your mom in your minds eye and pretend you’re talking to her. Find that relatable tone or risk getting tuned out!
6) BODY LANGUAGE
Sit up straight but don’t be stiff. Some gesturing is engaging on camera. Smile. It makes you human. If you talk with your hands, use them! Slightly leaning in also lets the audience know you’re listening.
Get your eye-line right! Slightly elevated is better than looking down (Nostril Central). What translates as eye contact to your Zoomates is looking directly at the camera on your device not at the Brady Bunch boxes on screen. It’s ok to “read the room” but quickly bring it back to camera. If you get distracted, cover your screen with a piece of paper or your playback monitor with a Post-it note.
Steps 1-6 set you up for successful communicating but if you have a bad background in your WFH environment— bah bye engagement. Clutter translates as unorganized. Bland background reads boring speaker. Give us some eye candy… a painting, photos – pretty! Books on a bookshelf —smart!
Fine-tune your framing. Not too much headroom and be sure a plant isn’t growing out of your shoulder.
You need a light source in front of you. Never position a window behind you, we won’t see you. Invest in a ring light or sit facing a window. Also, brighten your background by hiding a table lamp or two on the floor. Now, shine your shine!
Nothing loses people’s attention more than bad audio. Sit an arm’s length from your computer. Position yourself away from the sounds of the domestic circus: the baby crying, the vacuum, the dog barking. Consider investing in a USB, plug in LAV mic or Yeti standing mic for crisper audio.
Don’t tell the teenagers but tighter is better on camera. Tailored clothes. Lose the loose fabric. Solid brights are best. Pass on patterns please, they’re distracting. The camera can’t read stripes.
Megan Meany is a communications expert, national TV personality & founder of MEGA Media Consulting in Manhattan. www.megamedia.co