Five tips for better virtual communication

The key to improved business virtual communication is connection, which is sometimes just as important as content.


The key to improved business virtual communication is connection, which is sometimes just as important as content.

OPINION: The key to improved business virtual communication is this: connection is just as important as content. You are the vital ingredient in online engagement with other people.

You are what brings meaning to your content – your energy, your tone, your enthusiasm for your topic and your authenticity – otherwise, you could just send an email or a spreadsheet.

For once, it really is all about you. So how can you make sure you’re bringing your best virtual self?

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Accept that there’s a limit to what you can control

The weather, the lockdowns, your Zoom connection, how loudly your colleague can eat a potato chip.

Have a plan in place for dropped calls, such as a time limit for reconnection attempts, and make sure everyone has email and text details, so you can reschedule quickly if needed.

For a time-dependent encounter, line up a backup platform in case yours falls over mid-meeting.

Look into the camera when you present, not at the screen

It might feel weird, but it looks like eye contact to your audience. Put a photo or even a mirror next to the camera, so you can present to something human.

Do check in with your screen though, just in case something meme-worthy has gone wrong without you noticing. Not a sad kitten? Good, proceed.

Keep your physical energy alive

If you’re wanting to engage and excite your audience, consider standing up – it keeps your breathing open and your body more alert.

Put your camera at eye level, because tilted up is just a virtual tour of your nostrils. Keep your gestures to a minimum unless looking like a Tik Tok dance is an important part of your argument.

Actually, consider making a Tik Tok dance part of your argument, we could all use the laugh.

Background and lighting are important.

By now we’ve seen everybody’s curtains. We’ve seen the curated bookshelves and shonky greenscreens.

A suitable backdrop for your remote calls helps your colleagues focus on you. Face a window rather than have the light behind you. You, lit well, dressed appropriately, ready for your close-up.

Vary your tone of voice – especially important if you’re presenting.

We’re used to tuning out boring or unvarying noises – that’s why TV ads shout at us or use music we used to like until it was on a TV ad. Keep a natural, lively tone. Don’t eat on camera.

Russell Pickering is the founder of Pickering Group, which offers programmes in business presentation skills and storytelling training.

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