As a manager it is important that you be able to show leadership skills to your team. When we used to meet with our teams in the office, we could do this by showing them that we were listening to them, making eye contact and other ways to let them know that we viewed them as being important. During the pandemic, these things are no longer easy to do. We are interacting with our teams via video conferencing and it turns out that commanding a room full of team members with our manager skills isn’t the same thing as commanding a Zoom video conference.
We Need To Know How To Connect With People Via Videoconferencing
When managers are in face-to-face meetings, their physical charisma often goes a long way in helping someone get noticed and advance in their career. More reserved or shy managers are often at a disadvantage. However, physical charisma can be more challenging to replicate when we’re online – creating a potentially different pecking order that we don’t have any manager training for.
Online charisma involves a completely different set of skills and attributes than does in-person charisma. In person, charismatic managers could get away without saying much of substance because of all the other visual stimuli those around them were taking in, such as the way they confidently stood or gracefully moved or dressed with flair. Online, with fewer physical cues, what managers are saying or writing takes on more weight.
We Need To Make Sure To Occupy The Screen
After months of working from home, many managers may not realize they’ve been getting E-charisma wrong. The good news for us is that it can be learned. We need to understand that stage presence is part of what it takes to be charismatic in person. To achieve that on video meetings, you should make sure you are positioned so that your face takes up at least a third of the screen. Ideally you want to be in the middle of that screen, so you want to be close enough where there’s just a little space between the top of your head and the top of that frame. You want to be taking up your space in the frame just like you would take up space at the table if you were live.
Don’t Forget The Power Of A Smile
When you are in video meetings, whether you’re the host or a participant, use your nonverbal energy like nodding to show that you’re engaged. When we are in person, we tend to use a lot of vocal cues like ‘uh-huh.’ It can be difficult to do that on video. We need to understand that it can cause annoying effects in a large meeting. Those managers who tend to be more expressive with their hands should move the laptop back enough to demonstrate engagement in the conversation when listening, or to “make your words come alive” when speaking.
Managers need to know that a smile does wonders in communicating charisma. A simple, warm smile should do the trick most of the time when others are speaking, and a broader smile when someone on the call makes a joke. This is a form of team building. Otherwise you should try to look thoughtful in the most natural way you can, without looking too stuffy.
Always Remember To Use Your Voice
One of the ways that many managers communicate with their team is by using their booming voice – it becomes the way that they get recognized. However, they might sound less commanding on video or mobile phone calls because of a poor Wi-Fi connections or other electronic distortion. Managers should consider investing in high-quality microphones and headphones so that nuances and rhythms in their voice aren’t lost. Slowing down speech and articulating can also help ensure that you come across as confident, clear and charismatic. If you can learn to vary your pitch and speech patterns you can emphasize points and make the conversation more engaging.
Always Be Sure To Make Eye Contact
I think that we can all agree that it can be challenging to master eye contact while on video calls. In order to connect and engage in this virtual world, you have to make sure to look at the camera, as opposed to people on the screen. Ideally, you would want to position the camera at eye level. That may mean you may need to elevate your computer so you are either looking at the camera lens or the top third of the screen. If it’s a smaller meeting where you need to interact more, it’s OK to look at the people on the screen. Just look at one person or one pair of eyes because this gives the illusion of intimacy and helps you appear to be a good listener—a mark of charisma.
What All Of This Means For You
Our world has changed with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. What this has meant for many managers is that we now find ourselves at home instead of in the office. We stay in touch with the members of our team via video conferences. The challenge that we face when we are doing this is that how we represent ourselves via video conference may be very different from how we come across in person.
When we are connecting with our team via video conference, we need to make sure that we position ourselves so that our face takes up most of the screen. During the video conference we have to remember that one of the most powerful tools that we have available to ourselves is a smile. For some managers, their voice is a key way that they interact with people and they need to make sure that they sound good on video conferences. Finally, we have to come up with ways to make sure that we can make eye contact with the other people on the video conference even though they are not with us.
The good thing about video conferences is that there are currently so many of these going on that it’s easy for us to practice our video conference skills. With a little effort we can get better at participating in these things. Take the time to practice some of these suggestions and you can discover just how effective you can be during your next video conference.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: Do you ever think that you should look away from the camera during a video conference?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Clearly the pandemic has changed just about everything having to do with going to work. As the season for end-of-the-year performance reviews starts to arrive, many team members may be starting to experience the standard level of dread that they feel every year. However, the pandemic has changed everything else and so perhaps it should also change the way that evaluations are done. This is something that managers need to carefully consider.