Being self-aware of your body language is crucial in your communication efforts, even if you’re operating remotely. Nonverbal clues are just as significant in communication as your words and can help convey your message.
You’ll build better workplace relationships and find better success in business if you can express yourself nonverbally. Make sure you’re using your body to advantage in your virtual communication efforts by adhering to these tried-and-true strategies.
One of the easiest ways to appear engaged as an active listener in your efforts is to make eye contact with your peers. The eyes are a window into a person, and good eye contact allows you to form a lasting impression.
“On the other hand, failing to make eye contact can signal disinterest, dishonesty, or lack of confidence.” –Lolly Daskal
In a digital setting, you’ll need to balance the shifting perspective when other people talk and take center stage. Forbes’ Bianca Miller Cole writes to balance looking right at the speaking with looking directly into your camera so others can make eye contact with you. This may take some practice, but it’s philosophically the same idea as looking between different people in the room in a physical setting.
Don’t put all the burden of effort on your eyes, though. You must utilize your facial expressions properly to sell your body language as well.
Leadership expert Lolly Daskal warns that inconsistent facial expressions can undermine what you’re saying, create distrust, or generate confusion. If you’re talking about a great sales plan, for example, and you’re frowning or shaking your head, it’ll make that plan sound not so great. Make sure to be aware of your expressions and make sure they match the tone of what you’re saying.
Also, make sure to smile when appropriate! It’ll add some friendliness and warmth against the cold backdrop of technology.
Make sure your physical form is making the same effort as your face is. Even if someone can’t see your entire form on camera, there’s plenty on screen for someone to see your posture. Good posture is a cornerstone of good body language.
Even while seated, your posture makes a world of difference. LinkedIn says you can present an air of professionalism and interest by keeping your shoulders back, your back straight, and your arms slightly out. Leaning forward also shows interest in the speaker while leaning back does the opposite. Avoid slumped shoulders and crossing your arms. While in some settings this might make you feel approachable and casual, in meetings it will make you appear distant and disinterested.
“Tilting your head is a natural response during conversations. It often indicates that a person is listening intently and thinking about your message.” –Indeed
In a virtual setting, your hands might be out of view for most of the meeting. But don’t be afraid to bring them on screen in the right manner to enunciate your message!
Indeed says good hand usage can make or break your message, especially during interviews. When you aren’t speaking, it’s a good idea to keep your hands on your lap or at your side. But when speaking, don’t be shy about bringing them up to express excitement or gesture meaningfully. Just make sure not to cover your face on camera.
“Having your hands open is a sign of transparency and honesty, while it is essential to remember that pointing or crossing your arms can look aggressive to some.” –i3-Technologies
One major challenge you’ll face remotely is in framing your face within the camera. It’s hard to express body language if your body isn’t framed visibly on the screen. Finding the right distance to show enough of you without being too much of a close-up or having you three rooms away is the challenge.
Communication aficionado Jelena Fisic says the sweet spot is to have your entire head, shoulders, and the top of your torso on screen. Having just your head in view limits your body language arsenal. You want enough space to be able to bring your hands into play.
In a physical setting, meetings are usually conducted in a separate room to minimize distractions, but you won’t have that luxury remotely. Remote work is nice because it allows you to easily multitask, but visibly multitasking in a meeting is bad form.
Fellow’s Hannah Ross says that while you might think you’re being discrete, it isn’t hard for a viewer to track your eyes and see that you’re focused elsewhere. This will not only make you appear disinterested but it is disrespectful to whoever is speaking.
In order to also not be a distraction for others, Ross recommends picking an uncluttered background.
By being aware of the vibe you’re giving off with your body during virtual meetings, you can practice intentionality to make your message more effective. Following the aforementioned tips will make you appear more engaged, more persuasive, and more likely to form good business relationships in your next virtual meeting or interview.