Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in North America (February 2020), many industry professionals have shifted to working remotely. In turn virtual discussions, meetings, and presentations have become the predominant medium of communication.
Initially we were off to a rocky start. The issue was that many of us were not well versed in web-conference communication, and therefore were forced to experiment with different virtual strategies while trying to maintain productivity and reception.
In my previous article, Show your Hands (Even Virtually), I explored and outlined the benefits of gesturing while you’re speaking. I’ve since received a multitude of requests for additional speaking and presentation tips to enhance virtual delivery. In response I’ve prepared the following 3 proven virtual speaking tips.
1) Stand. Don’t sit
This debate has gone on for more than a year now and doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. The most common response to this query from other communication specialists has been to “choose whichever makes you most comfortable.” While I can’t vehemently disagree with this statement as comfort has been shown to lead to confidence, the issue is that many people feel uncomfortable either way.
Instead, I offer a concrete solution that I hope ends this debate for good. Stand (if possible). Don’t sit. Standing offers a variety of benefits to you that sitting does not, such as:
- Breathing more deeply and easily
- Increasing blood circulation
- Thinking more clearly
- Feeling more in control/command
2) Adjust your camera to eye-level
While communicating virtually, you should endeavor to emulate in-person communication as much as possible. This will lead to optimal reception. Therefore, having your camera aimed up your nostrils or down from above decreases reception. It sends a subliminal message to your counterpart that they’re not the focus of your attention at the moment. Even if you are addressing them by name and speaking directly to them. As a result, they may be less inclined to listen to, trust, and retain your message.
Raise your camera to eye level and look into the camera while you speak. This combination sends the most powerful message.
3) Set the tone (Establish practices)
Since we are still adapting to this novel form of communication via web-conferencing, there has yet to be an established set of norms or practices to follow. Some participants unmute themselves to interject and ask a question, others use the chat feature to communicate, while still others prefer to use system emojis.
In a situation where you are leading a meeting or presenting, the best practice is to set the stage for conduct. This means explicitly telling the audience or participants how you would like them to signal or communicate, before you begin.
- If you’d like your audience to use the chat for questions or comments, announce it to them.
- If you’ve planned breaks for questions or comments, announce it to them.
- If you’d like your audience to hold their questions until the end, announce it to them.
This technique helps the audience or participants understand how to conduct themselves and they will thank you for it. Additionally, it will help you feel more confident as you’ve respectfully reduced potential distractions.
Stand up, adjust your camera, and set the tone during your next virtual communication to enhance your success!
We wish you the best of luck in your future speaking endeavors!