October 26

Better Body Language on Video Lesson 1: You Are Not a Duck

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Have you seen these behaviors on video calls or meetings?

  • People swiveling, shifting, or bouncing in their chairs
  • An extreme close-up of someone’s face or hands as they move towards their camera
  • Frenetically flailing arms moving across the screen – supposedly to convey some meaning, but what?

Otherwise perfectly competent professionals are exhibiting the same behaviors as a restless third-grader on video. And more importantly, they are giving off negative signals with their body language that they do not intend, which can damage their credibility and plant seeds of doubt in the minds of their audience.

The Camera’s Magic Magnifying Effect 

In video’s tight frame, the camera picks up even the most subtle gestures and movements. A simple brush of your hand, nod of your head, or finger tap can instantly capture someone’s eye. Large, rapid movements dominate the screen and are often overwhelming and indecipherable to your audience.

While these movements may feel insignificant to you, movement is magnified on video because the screen is so much smaller and the environment so static. Anytime you move (consciously or unconsciously) your audience will be momentarily drawn to that action.  If that action is unrelated to what you’re trying to communicate, you’ve just given your audience extraneous information to decipher or information that competes or conflicts with your intended message. 

And if the movement occurs over and over (as many unconscious movements do), they become as distracting as a repetitive crutch word and your listener may find themselves unable to focus on anything BUT those movements before looking for ways to escape.

Your Audience Doesn’t Care Why You’re Moving

Whether you’re moving because you’re nervous, you’re uncomfortable, or it’s totally unconscious, is irrelevant.  Your audience doesn’t know or care. They are simply observing and reacting.  Their reaction may be as mild as a passing curiosity, or as strong as a desire to tune out or question your credibility or professionalism.

You can avoid these unforced errors by becoming aware of what your body is doing, how different movements read to your audience on video, and ensuring that every part of your body is in alignment and supporting your conversation, not working against it.

Better Body Language on Video Lesson One: You are not a duck.

You know how ducks paddle furiously underwater while their body above surface remains perfectly still?  I don’t know how they do it, but I do know this:  You and I are not ducks.

Whether sitting or standing for a video call or meeting, you must have a strong, still base. Your body is an intricately connected series of muscle, bones and nerves.  Moving a part of your body outside of the camera frame often results in visible movement in a body part within the camera frame.

For example, try crossing and uncrossing your legs or tapping your foot while watching yourself on video.  This will cause your torso to shift up and down.  And movements like rocking or swiveling in your chair will cause you to sporadically move closer and farther away from your audience. 

Avoid Unforced Errors on Video

Sending unintended messages with your body language are unforced errors that sellers can’t afford to make in a competitive environment. 

Learning what your face and body are communicating to your audience is critical to building relationships on video, and one of the many new skills I cover in my new book, Look Me In the Eye. You’ll also learn:

  • Video-friendly movements and gestures
  • How to use strategic eye contact to make your customer feel seen and heard
  • Practical video “cheats” you need to make for your audience’s benefit
  • Successful ways to turn passive virtual audiences into active participants
  • How to connect with people who are not on video

Get your copy today!


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