Those of us who are still working and are not considered essential have likely been working from home for over two months now. And with this change in work has come a change in the nature of our interactions with clients.
As we continue to isolate, many of us have had to transition to online communication platforms such as Zoom and Webex to continue fostering client relationships. However, this change in the nature of our correspondence brings with it a need for adjustment. Holding a client meeting over Zoom or Webex is not the same as holding a client meeting in person.
This week, our team dove into the two ways to improve your remote communication right now.
1. Basic Body Language
Think back to one of our earliest blog posts: 3 Job Interview Tips No One Told You About. The large majority of the tips we suggested involved superior use of body language. The ability to use the hands, eyes, and mouth to create an undeniable aura of attentiveness and interest.
Over Zoom or Webex, however, many of these advantages we are able to make use of during in-person interactions are thrown away. Here are a few examples:
- No shaking hands
- No use of hands to prove a verbal point
- The inability to stand up and greet upon arrival
All three of these body language tactics are of no use to use over a video chat. the end result is (an extremely close-up) face to face interaction with someone you may or may not know, and with only a few ways to use body language to your advantage. But despite the absence of these three powerful tactics, here are two ways you can make up for them during your online client interactions.
- Eye contact.
Eye contact is one of the few aspects of body language that you can actually control over video. Whether in person or online, maintaining healthy eye contact is key for communicating attention. It shows that you are present and care about what the other person has to say. However, don’t overdo this bit… The last thing you want is to end up staring awkwardly at your client for twenty minutes and never looking away — but an extra level of attention here can go a long way.
Posture is even more important over video chat than it is in real life, especially during a potential client meeting. There’s something about slouching over a webcam that’s painfully obvious. I don’t know if it’s the ultra-high definition or the close-up frame, but pay attention to your next Zoom/Webex meeting and take note of who’s slouching. Sticks out, doesn’t it? Try your best to sit up straight during these online interactions.
When we lose the advantage of physical presence, our tone becomes everything.
We are given a small window of time to make an impression on our clients. According to Jordan Belfort, one of the all-time sales greats, this window is often no longer than thirty seconds (if that). At this point, our tone becomes even more important than before. Placing a heightened level of importance on this can improve our remote communication without us even realizing
In order to compensate for a lack of physical presence, here are a couple of things you should focus on to make the most of your virtual meetings during this remote twilight zone we find ourselves in:
Enunciation is critical in general face-to-face client settings, but especially so during virtual meetings. Think about it. How many times a week does someone else on your team find their video cutting in and out due to their internet connection, or their volume sounding quieter? It may feel uncomfortable at first, but making a conscious effort to enunciate your words clearly can make a world of a difference in sounding more present.
To practice enunciating words more clearly, you can watch yourself talk in a mirror, taking note of the movements of your mouth, jaw, tongue, and lips. Making these movements as large and noticeable as possible will help improve your enunciation.
Another suggestion for improving your enunciation is to show your teeth while speaking. Showing your teeth creates a larger opening for sound to project through your mouth. According to WikiHow, a good exercise to practice this is to say the words “audibility” and “intelligibility,” one time with your teeth, and one time without. Notice the difference in clarity when projecting both words?
Enthusiasm sounds a bit cliche, but hear me out. Again, how difficult can it be to simply hear someone at times over a video chat? With meetings of 10+ people, it can become maddeningly difficult to communicate effectively while working remotely. One way to stand out? Raise your voice a bit! Sound engaged! Making a conscious effort to stand out is one of the ways you can use your tone to replace the effectiveness of in-person body language.
An effective way to ensure you sound enthusiastic is to ensure you’re constantly changing the range and tone of your voice. Try to avoid speaking in the same pitch for too long; you might risk sounding… *gulp* monotone.
What do you think? Is remote work becoming increasingly difficult for effective communication? Drop a comment to get the discussion started!