With ongoing advancements in conferencing technology and an increasing number of organizations employing global workforces, virtual communication has become a regular part of business culture. Virtual meetings, particularly video conference calls, offer many obvious benefits, including convenience and flexibility. Even a hospital stay is no longer an excuse to miss a meeting, as long as your hospital has wifi. But video conference calls can quickly turn awkward if the participants are not taking special attention to their body language cues.
For both in-person and virtual meetings, there are some basic body language guidelines that apply, including having good posure, making eye contact, and smiling. But in many video conference situations, the person on display is unaware of how magnified his or her features can appear on the screen, leaving unplanned facial expressions and body movements up for misinterpretation.
Here are some tips for managing your body language during a video conference.
1. Pay attention to your face
In a video call, your face will say it all. A smile and a nod will show agreement and understanding. Furrowed brows will indicate concern or confusion. A grimace will demonstrate reservation. Even mundane facial gestures--like blinking and licking your lip--can carry an unintentional message, so be careful of any excessive movements. And remember to keep your eyes focused on the person speaking at all times. Even looking slightly off to the side can be translated as disengagement.
2. Pay attention to your hands
Just as in a face-to-face meeting, your hands can be powerful communication tools in a video conference. General hand signals can be used to relay basic messages, such as holding your palm up and outward to signal "stop" or showing a thumbs-up to say "yes." Because your presence will often be magnified on a screen, be wary of using your hands to touch your face. Rubbing your eyes, scratching your head, and putting your chin in your hands can be distracting and off-putting.
3. Pay attention to your body
Bad posture still translates across the screen, so if seated, keep your back straight and your shoulders down. In some cases, it could be helpful to stand in order to project greater confidence, but remember that your entire body must stay within the camera's range at all times. And avoid rocking back and forth or changing positions often, as the camera likes to draw attention to every movement.
Keeping these tips in mind during your next video conference can help you stay focused on your main goals for the meeting and avoid any miscommunication.