The 80/20 Rule for Better Virtual Communication
You know the old 80/20 rule in business? 80% of business comes from 20% of your customers? The implication is clear: Hold close those who took you to the dance, and don’t get swept away by a bunch of sparkly new dance partners. But did you know that there’s also an 80/20 rule for virtual communication? And learning how to apply the 80/20 rule for better virtual communication is as vital to your success as dancing with those long-time customers.
The 80/20 Rule and the Tip of the Iceberg
Imagine you are on a ship’s deck scanning the horizon and you spot a piece of ice about the size of a house in the distance. It looks too small and too far away to be dangerous, so you head back to your room to retire. But below deck, the crew is busy diverting course after sonar revealed that this house-sized piece of ice is attached to a mall-sized mass. A mass capable of immediately crushing the ship on impact. Had the crew relied on the image presented by the tip of the iceberg, they’d have been incorrect…and you’d have been under water.
Like the tip of the iceberg, your customer is forming an impression of you, your company, and your product from the 20% of you they can see on their screen.
On video that is typically your face, part of your upper torso and perhaps a few partial gestures. This truncated impression is often inaccurate and damaging. Here’s why:
The “shoulders up” view of you displayed on a customer’s flat screen tells a very different story than the view of you sitting across from them in person. When you’re in person, your entire body is sending out information and providing context, emotion and energy to your customer. Everything from your posture, to the way you’re seated, to how you use your hands, even down to the attire you wear provides your customer with a more complete impression of you, and ultimately helps them determine whether they can trust you and want to do business with you.
Take control of your 20%
When that 80% of input is removed and your customer’s impression is solely based on the 20% they can see on their screen, you’d better be sure that 20% says everything you want it to say!
Unfortunately, most people have no idea what their 20% is communicating to their audience.
In order to manage your audience’s impression, you need to be very intentional about what you are communicating in this small space. It’s vital to understand how your audience experiences you and your message on their screen, and take control of that 20% view if you want to avoid costly bad impressions or misunderstandings.
How to apply the 80/20 rule in virtual communication:
Applying the 80/20 rule virtually starts with doing a good objective review of how your audience sees you on video. After all, if you don’t know how you’re coming across, how will you know what to change? Being objective with yourself is difficult for most people. It often helps to find an impartial coach or peer.
During your review, consider the following:
1. What is your face saying? Is it telling a story, or is it a blank slate? Don’t make your words do all the work. If your face has nothing to say, why are you on video?
2. Are you making eye contact with the camera 80% of the time? Unlike in person, on video you don’t share a common environment with your customer. If you’re not looking at the camera, your customer has no idea what you’re looking at. But they do know, you’re not engaging with them!
3. Are your movements supporting what you’re saying, or are they detracting from it? People often are unaware that when they shift, fidget, or tap their foot on video it can create movement on screen, making them appear nervous, insecure, or distracted to their audience.
4. Do you appear interested and engaged? Seated back in your chair on video, while comfortable, appears like you’re not interested in your customer. Sit up straight and lean forward slightly when on video to ensure you look engaged.
5. Channel your energy. Don’t let the energy in your body drain away just because it’s not seen by your audience. Channel that energy into your face, your voice, and purposeful movements.
6. Don’t forget clothing. Necklines are everything. No matter how expensive or well-tailored your outfit is, if all your customer sees is the neckline of a t-shirt, they walk away with a much different impression of how much care you put into dressing for the meeting.
7. Check your staging. This is the only view your customer sees of you, so make sure your background, lighting, and framing communicates what you intend.
In a competitive world, you can’t afford to leave your customer’s impression of you to chance.
Apply the 80/20 rule for better virtual communication by giving your customer a more complete and accurate picture of you with the 20% of you they can see.
If you are ready to tap into the power of building personal virtual relationships through the screen, I’ve laid the path out for you in my new book that won the 2021 Gold Medal Top Sales Book, Look Me In the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers, Partners and Teams. In it you’ll find all the steps and tactics you need to engage your audience.
Get your copy today on Amazon!