If you’re still able to work in this COVID world, you may be doing a lot of video calls. When meetings don’t feel as warm or connected as they used to — when they feel flat, dull, and relentless — it’s easy to blame the medium. But even in the digital age, the old rule still applies: Don’t be the bad employee who blames the tool. Master the tool instead.
Of course, video calls aren’t going to be the same as meeting real human beings in the room. But in a time where virtual meetings are all we have, we need to make them work. No excuses. It doesn’t help to slump in front of your laptop or surreptitiously check your phone messages while others are talking.
If you want to make your calls sing, think about imitating broadcasters, who know how to project energy through the lens and into the very pixels. Channeling the presence and focus of a great broadcaster will help you to get better results.
Here are the three techniques to keep in mind for better video calls:
1. Listening Feeds Speaking
What makes for a great video call? Simply stated, listening. When someone listens to you and responds in the moment, you hear it in their tone of voice. You see it in their facial expression. You can feel that they are with you, even if it’s on a screen. It feels good because it’s rare.
Most people on video calls are only half-listening. They think others can’t tell, so they engage in multitasking. But it’s apparent when they’re faking listening. They have a slight delay in their response or have a slightly flat intonation that says they aren’t entirely there. Trust vanishes, and participation starts to ebb.
Make your calls work by fully focusing. If you want to up the ante for participation and innovation in your virtual meetings, you have to make sure that your listening is as focused as if you were in the room together. Show up to your call fully present and engaged.
This may mean having to ration your calls — don’t run them back to back. Go for quality over quantity. Listen with full focus. Hear all voices, giving every participant your full attention. Be fascinated.
2. Keep it Short and Sweet
Keep the video calls short and on point so that everyone can fully engage. Follow an agenda, segmenting the content. Ask participants to keep their contributions concise and not let people run on for too long with their comments. Just as a great broadcaster does in a panel discussion, sum up and move on.
3. Speak through the Camera, not at it
When you’re connecting through the lens, you need to up your energy. You want to get the feeling of sending your energy through the screen and beyond. To up your energy before a call, play some upbeat music and sing along to it. It will boost your energy and your voice.
When you speak on the call, sit tall and think of sending your voice to the back of the room you’re in, even as you look at the camera. It gives you power vocally and will energize others. A broadcasting secret is to smile so that it shows in your eyes and your voice (as long as the message suits a show of lightness).
You’ll notice that when you commit energy to your video calls, it will come back to you. Energy is infectious. Send it out and watch it bounce back.