Enough…of the ‘talking-head’ camera angle, the messy background with visible clutter and the tired lighting casting shadows on your face.
Enough…of the hunched-over body language, the flat, monotone voice and the endless parade of your PowerPoint slides. Enough.
This worn-out and broken model of speaking online is demotivating your audiences, chipping away at your credibility and sucking the life out of your interaction.
With video conferencing platforms being used at record levels around the world, the right time is now to switch-up and elevate how you communicate in your virtual conversations. Breakaway from the dusty status quo and make your messages come to life with these disruptive tips:
Change your perspective
To help you to determine what you should improve about your online presence, change your perspective. Put yourself into the audience’s shoes and consider what you like as a participating audience member in an online interaction. Make a list.
To give you some ideas, here is our list of what we like:
In the setup:
· High quality video, lighting and sound
· A neutral background that is congruent with the professional presence of the host
· No technical glitches, and if there are any, a pre-rehearsed backup plan
· A camera angle that shows the body speaking, with arms and hands clearly visible, not just a talking head
· The use of wireless headphones enabling the speaker to sit, stand and move around as needed, not being held hostage to sitting near the computer
In the meeting:
· The use of alternatives to PowerPoint slides
· Active audience participation enabling everyone to feel like a valued member of the group
· Comfort/stretching/water/food/fresh-air breaks when the energy wanes
· A clear agenda and sticking to the timeline
· The option to switch-off the camera and just listen in
· The feeling of a shared purpose
In the speaking:
· A energized presence
· An engaged and animated face
· Vocal variety showing an emotional connection to the content
· Generously using pauses to help the audience absorb what is being said
· Body language that is congruent with the spirit of the message
· A variety of movement including sitting, standing and where appropriate, walking around
· More ‘open’ body language than ‘closed’ body language
What’s on your list? Once you know, get to work on incorporating more of what you like when you speak online. Disrupt the status quo of what you’re used to and toggle-up the ingenuity and the quality of your virtual conversations.
Breathe life into your message
Put your monologue and your drab PowerPoint slide-deck to the side and elevate how you deliver presentations online. Get creative and discover innovative ways to make your message come alive.
Here are some of our favorite ways to breathe life into what we have to say online:
· Use props
· Build-in moments of reflection for the audience
· Incorporate relevant stories and anecdotes
· Use photographs, art and other visual materials to delight the eyes
· Involve the audience as much as possible
· Use quotes and words of wisdom to elevate the content
· Incorporate video and audio clips
· Draw and write on a flip-chart with colorful pens
· Include graphs and charts and other numerical supports
· Incorporate movement like stretching, standing and making different gestures
· Have some fun and enjoy yourself
Tension is the enemy of connection
Beyond all of the suggestions shared so far, the very best advice we can give you is to release tension whenever it surfaces. If you don’t it will tighten the muscles of your face, neck and lower body, locking-up all of the goodness and authenticity inside and making it harder to connect with your audiences. Get into the habit of warming up before your online session and aim to keep your body tension-free during the call. Here are three of our favorite warm-ups:
1. Shoulder roll
This exercise will ease tension in your neck and shoulders and improve your posture. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Let your arms hang at our sides with your palms facing your legs. Keeping your head still, gently roll your shoulders backward, down and up. Next, roll your shoulders forward, down and up. Do five repetitions in each direction.
2. Marching in place
This exercise warms up your hips, legs and feet and improves your circulation. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your hands on your hips. March in place for up to two minutes.
3. Whole body shake out
This exercise energizes your entire body, giving you a buzz that helps you to get ready for your online experience. Shake out your hands, shoulders, legs and feet. Shake out your whole body.
Well there you have it . . .
Some tough-love advice and practical tips to help you to evolve your virtual conversations. In the spirit of disruption, give yourself permission in our current reality of massive change, to disrupt your own status quo when it comes to speaking online. Fix what is broken and doesn’t feel good to you anymore. Innovate and elevate into your higher self as a speaker. The right time is now.
Dr. Laura Penn trains global leaders from the world’s most recognized companies, academic institutions, and not-for-profit organizations how to speak in public. As the Founder of The Leadership Speaking School, world-class speaker coach and three-time TEDx speaker, featured on TED.com, she supports leaders who are hungry for the skills that they need to vastly improve themselves as speakers. Based in Switzerland, she is disrupting the status quo for how we speak in front of audiences both in-person and online.
Read the full LinkedIn Article HERE