Seven months ago, most of us were thrust into a new way of conducting business. With new methods of conducting business comes many opportunities. We have all seen the Zoom video call bloopers online where someone thinks their camera is off, but it isn’t. Perhaps a child roams into the picture, and a bevy of other mishaps that have found their way into many compilations online. Some of these mistakes are mortifying to say the least but they are also humanizing, and can be used as ice breakers.
One mistake that I consistently see, that is completely preventable, is body language. Like many of you, video meetings are a normal part of my day. I have calls with colleagues, and also clients, and I have noticed a consistent opportunity when it comes to body language and video calls. Just because you are on a video call versus an in-person meeting, does not mean that normal business rules go out the window! Your body language matters. You would never look at your phone while you were in an in-person meeting, so why is it different for an online video call? Don’t think that you can check your emails real quick or see who that Slack notification is from without your meeting attendees noticing.
The temptation to look at your phone or email inbox is great while on a video call. This is especially true if you are attending an online call as a fly on the wall (meaning you do not have a speaking role, you are there to take notes and observe). Even though you do not have a role in the meeting, you still need to show engagement. A big sigh, slouching in your chair, head tilted to the side, these are all indicators that you have left the building and the very last thing you want to do is be on that video call. Is that really the message you want to send to your clients and colleagues?
Sit up straight, shoulders back, chin up, smile, nod. Your body language speaks volumes about you.
How do I communicate this to a colleague or direct report? Good question. An authentic way to bring this up would be to use yourself as an example. Explain how you became aware of this opportunity. Another way is to record your next video call and share it with the relevant people. I recently did this for myself (hence, this post) and discovered not only that my body language left a lot to be desired, but I also said “Ummm” way too many times.
Be aware of your body language. Make sure that your body language is matching the same message that you/your colleagues are attempting to communicate in your meetings.