Simon Day shares his top tips to help you make a great impact with effective online communication
For many of us the continuing lockdown means that most of our business communication is still happening online. As I’ve conducted online meetings and coaching sessions I have realised that there is much to learn about doing this well.
Here are some tips to help you connect with people effectively online in meetings or presentations for the lockdown and beyond:
This must be maintained 30% of the time for a conversation to be deemed fit for purpose. To establish and maintain relationships of trust and respect, this rises to between 60% and 70%. In online communication, it is incredibly tempting to look at the face on screen for much of the time, thinking you are making eye contact. You are not. Eye contact is made by looking at the camera lens. Put a sticker near the lens as a reminder that when you speak, this is where you should look. It takes practice, but it will pay dividends as viewers will feel more involved in the experience.
When you give a stand-up presentation, people can see your entire person and can therefore read facial expression, body language and gesture. Speaking on camera limits this, which places more emphasis on the voice. Varying pitch, pace and volume can help you communicate with greater authenticity and emphasise key points with greater authority. If you are concerned, sound concerned. If you are happy, sound happy. This will make it much easier for participants to correctly interpret your intended message.
Speaking from the heart
I am reading a book: ‘Storytelling Made Easy’ by Michael Hauge. I highly recommend it. All meaningful communication elicits emotion and our stories are one of the most effective ways to achieve this. In these difficult times, an authentic personal story can bond individuals and unite communities.
Making Videos for your business
With his permission, I refer to Haydn Rushworth – Senior Research and Communications Officer at the National Assembly for Wales. He recently posted a superb video on LinkedIn. In it, he shares, then demonstrates, simple tips for producing better video from any device:
- Don’t stand or sit with a window behind you – you quickly turn into a silhouette. Facing a source of natural light gives much better lighting for your videos.
- Use a tripod, wall or lean your device against a steady object to ensure the video is smooth. Keeping a steady shot allows you to more readily replicate a face-to-face conversation and ensure people maintain focus on you.
- Find a quiet place. Background noise can be incredibly distracting.
- Look at the lens, not the screen.
- Ensure you are in focus. This can be done on most smartphones by tapping the screen and ensuring the lighting is adequate.
- Choose a flattering camera angle. Ensure the device is at least at eye level – nobody wants to see up your nostrils.
- Film in landscape (horizontal) mode where applicable – the video is then easier to post and view across multiple platforms.
Improving the Experience
When we speak in person, it is much easier to read facial expressions, observe gestures, detect body language and discern variations in vocal tone. All of these combine to give us a clearer a picture of precisely what is being said from how it is being said.
Poor video quality may obscure facial expression, intermittent audio reception may betray the subtle variations of the voice and restrictive camera angles may hide the true meaning of body language or gestures.
Good quality over-ear headphones, an HD webcam and a USB mic have significantly improved my online communication experience: I can see more clearly, hear more clearly and speak more clearly. My hands are also free, not being encumbered by handheld equipment or getting tangled in wires!
Even if you’ve been working remotely for a while, I hope these tips will prove helpful as online communication is likely to increase.