How to Video Conference

The future is Video Conferencing whether we like it or not, and HD technology means we have to start focussing on our facial body language to maximise our message. Let me show you how an old TV can help.

Our TV is only 6 years’ old but the kids reckon it’s ancient. “Belongs in a museum Dad”. Now I’m not going to change the set until it packs up on us, that’s the way I am, but the children kept badgering me to look at the new breed of flat screen High Definition 3D tellies.

Whilst in Currys, buying some stuff for my computer, I happened across their huge range of new TVs. Euan was with me, so we thought we’d have a look. And it blew me away. Screen after screen all paraded along the wall in their 50 inch plus glory. A wonderful site and I was soon fixated on one demo TV which cleverly showed a split screen. Glued I was.

One half was old fashioned TV, like ours at home, showing all the graininess of a crispbread.  The other half was HD at its finest.  I could even see a bead of sweat on the actors face and the blushing of his cheeks.  I read somewhere that the new breed of TVs are making actors go back to drama school as they have to re-learn how to use all the expressions of their faces when acting, rather than the obvious forms of body language.  The camera is getting closer and picks out every minute detail and the actors have to prepare for this.

And then I started thinking about sales people and their managers appearing on these screens in the form of modern video conferencing, Telepresence, web conferences, Gotomeeting etc.  How good are we at using your face when communicating? In coaching and close up selling the face can give away all sorts of clues to how we’re feeling and what’s on our mind.

Are you aware of every expression you use, how you flush when you get worked up, your eye movements, beads of sweat.  Are you aware of your body language leakage, in other words when you show a sudden change in appearance.  Close up face to face communication and on a big screen in the near future, your audiences will pick this up.

So here’s some quick tips and reminders on facial body language and the effect:

  • Eye contact, on a screen your eye contact should be steadier than normal and only look away for an effect.
  • Gazing regularly shows a positive, inviting attitude – open to communicate. Here’s the area to gaze at:
  • Eye flicker shows nerves and tiredness
  • Nodding occasionally while this person is talking to you shows you are interested and focused on them.
  • Tilting your head shows empathy and that you’re thinking about the answer to their question
  • Shaking and nodding your head in agreement or disagreement, beware as in some countries it means the opposite
  • Tension in brow – shown by scrunching them together
  • Hand to face scratching, indicates thought or nervousness
  • Adam’s Apple, mostly visible in men, a jumping Adam’s apple shows anxiety, embarrassment , stress
  • Nerves shown by reddening cheeks, sweating
  • Nose flare shows agitated, angry
  • Nose twist to one side, shows disagreement or dislike
  • Pursing lips showing anger or negative thoughts

I guess the key message is to get some training in body language. Remember that future video communications requires as much focus on our facial language as much as body language.  Learn to use it to your advantage. And until I upgrade my TV we won’t be seeing any detail to worry about in the Archer household

Speak to you after Christmas, and have a lush holiday.