3 More Tips for Speaking in the Virtual World
“Best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you are talking about” – Michael Mescon
In last week’s newsletter, I gave you three tips for speaking in the virtual world.
This week, I give your three more tips: Increase your distance from the camera, properly position your lighting and get more personal with your audience.
Distance from Your Camera
When you are delivering an in-person presentation, your audience sees all of you – your face, your arms, your legs, etc. You use your body language to communicate.
I have mentioned previously the fact that studies have shown your body language and tone of voice are the vast majority of your communication.
However, now you are presenting in this virtual world and the limits on what the audience can see of you are the dimensions of your little video box.
When you are attending a virtual meeting, there are people at different distances from their cameras. For some, all you can see is their face. For others, they are far away from the camera. You might not be able to make out their facial expressions.
So, how do you maximize your communication within your little video box?
If you are sitting for your presentation, increase your distance to the camera enough so the audience can see you from your waist up. Do this because your gestures and your upper body language can then be seen. How many speakers have you listened to and observed virtually whose gestures and upper body language are hidden? Don’t negate your body language by being too close to your camera.
Even better than sitting for your presentation is to stand further away from your camera so the audience can see you from your knees up. By virtue of standing, your body language will be more pronounced.
There is one caution on standing for your presentation. Be sure to know the left and right boundaries of your camera. Put white tape on the floor on the left and right to signify the left and right camera boundaries and where you should not go.
So, distance from the camera contributes mightily to your communication to the audience.
Although increasing your distance to the camera will help with your body language, it won’t solve your lighting challenge.
I hold a number of presentation and interview skills courses in the virtual world. In every class, I see lighting problems on the students screens. Sometimes, someone looks like a shadow. You would think they are in the witness protection program.
A good rule of thumb is your lighting should be facing you and not behind you. If it is behind you, you will look like a shadow. People will not be able to discern your facial expressions. Quite often I see people on the screen with a window in the background. Avoid this if possible.
Even if the lighting is in front of you, there is always the chance it will cast shadows.
An instructor in one of the virtual courses I took said the best lighting is to have two lights of the same lighting magnitude shining at you on angles toward you away from the center of your face. This eliminates shadows.
So, you have learned how important maintaining some distance from your camera and the proper placement of lighting is. The third and last tip this week is to get more personal with your audience.
Get More Personal
Now what do I mean by get more personal.
When you are delivering an in-person presentation, it is important to let the audience know who you are. Your audience will then connect with you more.
In the virtual world, however, the audience only sees you in that little video box. Because there is additional distancing from your audience in the virtual world (You are literally not in your audience’s presence), it is especially hard to establish and maintain a connection with your audience.
One way to establish a connection with you audience is to allow your audience know a little bit more of your personal life than you would normally tell them in an in-person presentation.
The more you open up about your personal life, the more commonality your audience will find with you and, therefore, connect with you more.
Now, let me clarify. I am not asking you to open your whole life; just a little more than you would if you were presenting in person.
For instance, in an in-person delivery, you might mentioned you are married and have four kids. In a virtual delivery, you might want to name your kids and tell a little about their backgrounds (e.g., high school, college, sports, etc.). That is the extent I am talking about. I am not talking about mentioning how your brother-in-law is serving time, a description of your knee operation or your experience in the third grade.
A funny thing happens when you open up a little more to your audience. Audience members start comparing their lives and kids to your life and kids. They will find commonalities. Commonalities brings people closer. It establishes you as a person to whom your audience should listening. What speaker does not want that?
So, next time you are speaking virtually, try a little more openness with your life. The audience connection benefits will be worth it!
So, what have you learned in this newsletter? You have learned how increasing your distance from your camera exposes your body language and, therefore, increases your communication. You learned lighting should be in front of you and not behind you. Finally, you learned letting your audience know a bit more about your personal life than you would volunteer in an in-person presentation actually draws the audience more toward you.
As you navigate this virtual world of speaking, you will notice similarities and differences between this world and the in-person world. Keep doing what you would do in the in-person world. Realize the differences between in-person and virtual presentations. Make plans to adjust and take advantage of the differences.
There may be a resistance from you to pursue virtual speaking.
When automobiles first came on the scene in the early 20th Century, horse-drawn buggy manufacturers still thought they were in the horse-drawn buggy manufacturing business. They were wrong! They were in the transportation business. If another transportation method came along that was cheaper, cleaner, and more economical they would be out of business. The rest is history!
How many horse-drawn buggies are sold each year in this country? How many automobiles are sold in this country every year?
Thinking speaking can only be done in-person is old world thinking and dangerous if you earn your living from speaking. Thinking speaking can be done in both the in-person and virtual worlds is new world thinking.
Make no mistake. We are now in a new hybrid speaking world!
Would you rather sell horse-drawn buggies or automobiles?
Call to Action
In your next virtual presentation,
Increase your distance from your camera to increase your communication
See the light by ensuring your lighting is in front of you and not in back of you
Provide a bit more about your personal life than you would in an in-person to establish a stronger connection with your audience in the virtual world
“90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform” – Somers White
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence.
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