I’m just starting to use videoconferences for sales calls. How should I differentiate my body language from that of a face-to-face meeting?
I have begun to frequently using video chat as a means of negotiating sales and meeting potential partners abroad. I'd like to develop effective relationships with these partners without always having to fly out to meet with them, but I don't want this less-personal mode of communication to get in the way of developing strong bonds or good sales agreements. Is there any way I should be differentiating my body language/way of speaking in order to overcome any negative effects from using video chat (rather than meeting in person)? Thanks!
Look at the camera, more than you look at the screen. Everyone gets this wrong. In-person, you look at their face and make eye contact while talking, right? But on a laptop or a phone, their perception lens is your camera, not their face or eyes. While it's tempting to look at the other person(and you can look at the screen) but always try and look at the camera, because that's when it feels like you're making eye contact with them.
Smile more that you usually do, they can't see your body energy but they can see your facial energy. So convey your excitement and passion through facial expressions, move your head a lot more, and lean forward rather than leaning backwards.
Lastly, slow down the tempo a bit. Not everyone is super comfortable on video and problems of network or technological limitations can be distracting for people. So slow down the tempo of your discussion, speak a lot more slower than how you do it in person.
Hopefully, you'll enjoy the conversation a lot more and if you do that, you're already doing a better job being a salesperson and being more engaging with your clients.
My contribution wouldn't be so much body language as just be yourself, but think of the medium you are sharing across small monitors. Think more hollywood... what I mean by this is that we normally do these meetings at are desk and it shows. Try setting up an area with better lighting, a good freestanding camera to capture vs your computer, and a neutral backdrop/uncluttered. This will show more than simply skyping at your desk with poor overhead lighting.
If you have never seen yourself speaking on camera before, the first step is to create a video and then watch yourself to see where you can improve. Watch for your posture, nervous movements you may not be aware of like playing with a pen. Chose a chair that you cannot swivel in. Many people start to swivel when they talk, Keep hand gestures to a minimum because it distracts your audience. Look into the camera and remember to smile occasionally and show expression on your face in response to others dialogue. Chose a location with a background that is plain and professional looking so the focus is on you and not the things around you. Finally make sure you are in an area where there isn't ambient noise like others talking or an open window where you can hear the traffic etc. Hope that helps :)
I recommend you don't make any changes to how you interact online; reason being that if you attempt to put on something that isn't truly you, you are likely to come across as inauthentic. Research has shown that when there is confusion in communication (as is more likely online than in person), it's the tones and non-verbals that carry the message. Ironically, when there is this confusion, words account for only about 7% of the message. So especially online, don't use any actions (including facial expressions) or tones that are not the real you. Your sincerity and authenticity will carry the day.
In person communication is always the best. If that isn't possible, you might try more frequent online communication; you'll never make up for in person, but you will give the other person more opportunity to get to know you.
Thomas...there is some great advice below.
Being someone who has used video conferencing for over 20 years (yes I am aging myself:)).... I agree with the below. You should be as natural as you are in person (and I would even go as far as your movement - it depicts passion.
The one area that you have to be careful about is... a lot of times, people forget that they are being videotaped, and subconsciously feel as if they are simply on a call, not face to face. And their facial expressions go astray - rolling of the eyes, frowning, shaking of the head. Things they stay conscious of face to face...but let their guard down when on a call. As someone mentioned, get on a few calls with others and trying not to pay attention to it, see if it happens with you. Then adjust - put a note on the top of your PC that reads ON.... or something as a reminder.
Lastly - be sure the background of where you are video taping is appropriate. I have seen everything - and trust me, that is scary:)))))
Have you studied the use of body language in a business or sales environment? The typical recommended strategy is to duplicate, within reason, your contact's body language. Probably, in a virtual environment, this is a great strategy for connecting emotionally with the person. However, do some research in the books written on this subject. As another person has mentioned to you, I think that over-use of hand gestures is probably a bad thing. That can be construed negatively. You also may want to do some research about cultural customs for the cultures with whom you will communicate most often. Again, there are books on that subject. Good luck.
Body language is a difficult thing to teach and control. Since your space is much tighter than in person, all the motions you make will be enhanced. Try to stay still and subtitle unless your making a major point. Avoid tapping, clapping and any other major distractions. And limit the over done smiles and frowns except for specific points. I suggest you contact a close friend or family member to practice a presentation or any other meeting parts and get their reaction to what you have done. Have them be extra critical so you can change and refine your skills. This is not something that can be taught or mastered in a short time. And practice in this case does make perfect.
True as we go global, technology does come to our rescue in the form of Video Chats. A plus is that you can still give that personal touch to your dealings, All you have to do is :
1. Keep your reactions normal and not plastic. Be as you will be while you are sitting in front of them.
2. Avoid too many hand movements though the screen tends to take up a lot of space and it confuses the other side .
3. voice modulation to be focussed upon.
4. If possible move around your room, ifyou have a wider screen at client side. Else keep your facial expressions mild and natural!
Face-to-face sales meeting has human touch whereas Video conferencing has technological support. While you do not wish to loose your personal touch.. your body language should be as similar to face-to-face meeting.. this will overrule technological tool.
I think that by yourself, considering that your are not in a meeting in person, you will be careful at your body language. Mainly if it's about partners in business. But i'm not sure that there is a big difference from a face to face meeting. In business your are always professional, don't you?