The Key to Connecting in Virtual Meetings is (literally) in Your Hands
If you’ve ever been on a dreadful first date or had an office mate you did not click with, you know that connections don’t happen simply by putting two people together in a room. Connecting, or having a relationship is like any living, breathing organism, requires certain elements to grow and flourish. And this is true regardless of whether you are communicating face-to-face or virtually.
The Missing Hormone in Virtual Meetings
One element that helps people connect in a meaningful way is actually a chemical called Oxytocin, not surprisingly known as the love hormone. You may be wondering whether a love hormone is appropriate for use in a business relationship, but oxytocin is responsible for more than just feelings of attraction. It also helps us to trust people and feel more connected – making it easier for a relationship to develop.
But here’s the catch: while oxytocin is activated easily when we meet with people face-to-face, it’s much more difficult to achieve in a virtual meeting — at least the way people are currently using video.
How Oxytocin Makes Us Feel Connected
The first way to activate oxytocin is through direct eye contact. Having someone look into your eyes can raise your level of oxytocin and reduce the level of cortisol, the hormone that creates stress. This combination makes you with connecting. You feel more open, and relaxed with the person making eye contact. This happens easily and naturally in person. It happens rarely, if at all, in virtual meetings. Lack of any meaningful eye contact is a chief contributor to the disconnection we feel that is often blamed on Zoom Gloom and other environmental factors.
The second way oxytocin is released is through physical contact, like shaking hands. While we’re unable to achieve that physical connection on video, there is strong evidence that just seeing someone’s hands can put people at ease, build trust, and facilitate a connection. Open palm gestures in particular send trust signals to other people’s brains, making them feel less threatened and more receptive according to body language expert, Allan Pease. Unfortunately, many people sit on their hands in virtual meetings or use gestures that distract and distort their true intentions, clouding any potential benefit.
Two Ways to Activate Oxytocin in Virtual Meetings
Make direct eye contact with the camera. You know what this means, right? You have to stop staring at your screen and look at your camera in order to trigger the release of oxytocin in the other person’s brain. There are a dozen other important reasons for making direct eye contact through your camera as well, like improved engagement, listenership, credibility, and perception of friendliness, but here’s a really cool bonus: When you gaze into the camera, every single person in your meeting can experience a rush of oxytocin because each person will feel like you are looking just at them!
Show your hands.
Find ways to incorporate gestures into your virtual communications. You may need to readjust your framing if you’ve been using a tight “extreme close-up” shot (which is not recommended in part for this very reason.) You’ll also need to learn how to adapt your gestures for clarity on the small screen. Large, vague, or fast movements may be effective for in-person meetings, but they are a primary cause of distraction in the camera’s tight frame. The adage “less is more” fully applies here.
These tips may sound simple, but they are by no means easy. If they were, we’d all be doing it by now! That’s why I wrote a book detailing precisely how to make all of these adjustments on video that have big payoffs in terms of improving your virtual connections. Who knows, you might just fall in love with the process of connecting to people through video.
The bottom line on connecting in virtual meetings is this: Don’t tie your hands behind your back. Leverage the power of oxytocin. The key is literally in your hands (and eyes!)
This is just one of the tips that I include in my book, Look Me In The Eye Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers, Partners and Teams. Feel free to check it out if you’re looking for more tips on how to engage customers and drive more sales on video.Get your copy today on Amazon!