The best form of communication happens face to face.
Communication is not just the words that you say, but also the tone in which you say them and your body language.
Non-verbal communication through facial expressions and hand gestures is important in getting your thoughts and ideas across accurately.
People are also prone to pay more attention when they can see the person they’re talking to.
In the event that you can’t meet your customer in person, the next best alternative is a video call. Now that there are technologies that allow your website visitors to easily contact you with a video call, you have the ability to make a far deeper impression on your prospects than over a phone call.
However, while video calling is a powerful tool, it needs some extra consideration to maximise the potential benefits.
This guide is aimed at homeworkers and individuals who want to improve how they are perceived during video calls. While dedicated contact centres adopting video calling should invest in permanent, branded backgrounds, headsets and specialist training, the principles listed below apply to any video calling scenario.
Here are 5 ways to avoid common mistakes and make a lasting impression on a video call:
1. What's Behind You?
The backdrop behind you when you are sitting and facing the laptop is important.
The people you’re on a call with get to see whatever is behind you throughout the call. Make sure your office space is clean and your background looks professional. A cluttered background makes you look disorganised. Besides, it can also be very distracting for your client.
If you are a remote worker, working from a home office, place the camera in such a manner that it doesn’t capture personal belongings, and keep inappropriate wall art to a minimum.
If possible, use “seamless paper” that professional photographers use in their studios as a backdrop, or line a bookshelf with a few books.
2. Face the Lights
Lighting is crucial for effective video calls. The usual overhead light is the worst form of lighting as it creates shadows under your eyes.
Light coming from behind you from a window or a fluorescent bulb is also not a great idea. When light hits a web camera, it compensates by going dark, making you look like a faceless shadow.
The whole point of a video call is that your clients can see you and your facial expressions.
Therefore, if you have your back to a window, draw the blinds or turn around and face the window. If you make a lot of video calls, you might want to have a permanent workstation setup without your back to a window.
3. Find a Quiet Corner
A quiet spot is important for any call to ensure the other party can hear you clearly and accurately.
The easiest way to dampen background noise is to use a good headset. When you are in an office environment, book a meeting room for important video calls. If you and other people in your team make a number of video calls during the day, it might be practical to move your team’s desks to a quieter section of the office.
If working from home, close the door and put up a ‘do-not-disturb’ sign. Put your phone on mute and ensure you will be left alone.
A barking dog or loud music can ruin conversations. So can people walking in and out of the room where you are making the call.
Let other people know that you are making an important call so that they can keep volumes low.
You don't want such distractions in a live meeting, right? Then why should you have them on a video call?
4. Look the Part
Your office might have a casual dress code, especially if you work in a tech startup!
However if you are talking to prospects or customers, it’s best to dress formally in order to make a great impression.
If you are working remotely, it is prudent to dress completely rather than just wear shorts, even if you know that only your face and shoulders are going to be visible! What if you have to get up in the middle of the meeting for some reason?
Dressing up in formal work clothes also puts you in a professional frame of mind which reflects in your manner of speech and non-verbal actions.
If your camera angle is awkward, it will make you look unflattering. Make sure the camera is at eye level. Keep a few books under your laptop until the angle’s right.
Tip: The camera should be able to capture the triangle of your forehead to your left shoulder and right shoulder in the frame.
5. Polish those Listening Skills
A video call is exactly the same as an in-person meeting, except you are not sitting in the same room. So treat it like one.
Sit up straight, maintain eye contact and listen when the other person is speaking.
Don’t look at your notes or squint at your computer screen. Don’t read your emails or multitask on other activities not related to the call.
When talking, we often tend to look at ourselves - in the corner of the screen! This usually happens unconsciously. Make it a point to look into the camera and the other person’s face on your screen.
You need to be completely engaged and present to maximise the benefits of seeing and being seen by the other person.
More tips on mastering inbound calls here: Inbound Calls: A Sales Guide
The Key to Growth
Good communication is the key to growing any business. While words are essential, non-verbal communication through facial expressions becomes even more important when you are an inbound sales or support person and need to gain a customer’s trust.
Tick these 5 points before making your next video call and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.
By Joy Ghose
Joy Ghose is Co-Founder and Managing Editor of SuccessIsWhat - a blog on leadership and productivity. Joy has interacted with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and leaders of nations in her decade-long career as a journalist. SuccessIsWhat also helps tech and SaaS companies with content marketing and influencer marketing.
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