Prolonged eye contact
Exhaustive studies have been carried out over the last century on the impact of eye contact. Eyes are the windows to the soul and without a connection, there can be no trust. Try talking with someone who stubbornly refuses to remove their sunglasses. There’s just no connection, something is missing, trust is not there.
The same goes for video technology, you just have to do the same but more. More prolonged eye contact is needed which in a real life face to face would be construed as staring. And you mustn’t look at the customer’s eyes, you need to look into the camera.
This is actually harder to do that it seems, especially if the camera it situated towards to top or even on top of the monitor. The instinct is to look at the customer’s eyes and face but do this and they’ll see you looking down at them. The answer is to look into the camera and imagine that the customer is behind it. Look straight into the camera and the customer will see that you are giving them eye contact. Occasionally glance or learn to have a sharper peripheral vision so that whilst you’re staring into the camera, you can keep an eye on your customer’s body language and facial expressions as you engage, but do this with peripheral vision.
A little trick here is to ensure you put your image in a window at the bottom of the screen, that way you know how you are appearing to the customer.
Use more gestures
But keep your hands away from your face. More on the face thing shortly but if you have your whole top half of your body in the frame, then gestures work as the extra movement creates engagement. Have you ever watched a series of TVs in a showroom, your gaze is drawn to the screen that is moving not the blank ones. This is why TV and video is so much more engaging, we are drawn to movement.
Likewise in a video, your gestures create this same effect and bring you closer to your customer.
Don’t overdo it and turn into a human windmill, ensure they are all meaningful and are used to illustrate what you are saying.
Don’t hand to mouth
Hand to face is a total negative. Research in body language shows clearly that hand to mouth movements are generally negative and the hand placed at many points on the head construe adverse readings.
I was trained in hypnotism way back in the 90’s as part of my NLP training. Apart from using some of the techniques in my sales training programmes, I rarely use it, but one of the techniques has stayed with me.
A resonant voice.
This has been known in TV circles for decades and TV presenters particularly journalists, news readers learn to develop a more resonant voice. I’m not talking a deep voice just more resonant.
It appeals to people more, provides credibility, and an aura of knowledge and expertise results. On our workshops and in the MP3s, we provide you with some voice exercises that’ll give you a more resonant voice.
Have an expressive face
A dead-pan look is for poker players who wish to reveal no emotions. On a side issue, I’ll show you shortly how you can read even a poker player’s face. But in the meantime, practice your expressions. It’s down to movement as before but also it humanises your video image, the customer needs to know you are real albeit separated by hundreds if not thousands of miles.
Smile more, laugh if the occasion arises, match what the customer is saying with your expression as a sign of listening. For example, if your customer is answering your question about how they might cope in the vent of a family tragedy (if you’re advising the need for life assurance), the if their answer is maudling, then show it in your face.
Some people naturally do this; women especially are good at it. If you’re not a natural then you need to develop more expressions.
The little video in the bottom of the screen showing how you come over, is a valuable reminder of this technique. Placing a small hand held mirror below the screen can also be a useful prompt.
I was watching a re-run of Carry on Camping this weekend and the voices were very fluent, rather too BBC for my liking. But in that era speaking like a Lord or Lady was the done thing.
Thankfully nowadays, we’ve moved on but it still requires that you speak clearly and succinctly so the customer can hear you clearly. Although it’s plain to see why, the effect is accentuated by the use of microphones and speakers which don’t always mirror the human voice. On the MP3s you’ll find some exercises that you can do to become more fluent in your words and remove sibilance – the scourge of the S’s.
Pace comes into fluency. Too fast and people may not keep up with you talking and to a natural slow talker, a pacey salesperson comes across as pushy. Now we don’t want that. Try to match your customer’s voice pace. But whatever you do, don’t talk too slowly compared to them as your come over as rather lacking in intelligence.
Often called Pigeon Toes in call centre circles. Or pitch and tone to you and I.
This links in from the last secret of fluency, its now down to your tone of voice. Varied is good, monotone is out.
This is something telephone salespeople have been working on since the invention of the phone.
Again, we have some exercises on the MP3s for you to develop your tone.
Not to be confused with facial expressions, this one is about moving your head to create a bond with the customer. Let me explain why then how.
In a real life face to face exchange we see 3 dimensions; we see all of the face, head and body. At the moment most video is 2 dimensional although changing to 3D rapidly but I just can’t get used to wearing those silly glasses.
To attempt to emulate the 3D experience moving your head around occasionally can show the whole picture to your customer. So move your head to show a profile, tilt your head in an empathic gesture (dogs do this have you noticed) and nod to show agreement with the customer. As before don’t overdo this technique, be real.
It’s a little “happy clappy” but it shows clearly that those with a positive outlook give a better experience to a customer over video. A glum individual, with little or no emotion, going through their paces inspires few people.
A positive attitude, looking on the bright side, cheery demeanour all inspire the customer to connect with you in the shortest possible time. And we all know that it takes seconds for a first impression to be formed.
Microexpressions are fleeting, involuntary facial expressions that flash on the human face the instant an emotion is felt. The brevity with which they appear on the face differentiates them from longer, voluntary expressions known as macroexpressions.
Microexpressions are often concealed so rapidly that they are nearly imperceptible to the untrained eye. Unlike body language and macroexpressions which can be masked.
There are 7 known microexpressions and these can be recognised from humans as early as 4 years of age and they are known to cross racial divides and even been tested in monkeys.
They are universal.
If you want to find out more on microexpressions, download an app for your iPhone or Android phone called Micro Expressions Training, retails at £2.49, not a lot of money to spend on your self-development.
Work through the app, it’s very good and will teach you to recognise the split second microexpression.