September 16

How To Have More Natural Conversations on Video Calls

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How To Have More Natural Conversations on Video Calls

Let’s face it, there’s nothing “natural” about having a conversation on video. Whether you’re talking to a floating head, your camera, or black boxes on your screen, the result is typically the same: awkward, stutter-stops  and talk-overs, misreads and misfires.  For sellers, that equates to missed opportunities! Most people wonder how to have more natural conversations on video calls.

Are we destined to a future of unnatural, unsatisfying and unproductive virtual calls?  Is it even possible to have a more natural conversation on video calls? Absolutely! But in order to feel natural and confident on video, it’s important to understand why we feel so awkward and unnatural on video.

The “Natural” Communication Loop

Our awkwardness communicating on video runs deep. As babies we learned to communicate and connect with others by sending and receiving both verbal and nonverbal cues. This natural communication loop usually takes place seamlessly, as the following exchange shows:

  1. You smile, which sends the message that you are happy to see your customer.
  2. Customer smiles back at you, acknowledging receipt of your message. 
  3. You are able to continue on with confidence, having received assurance that your customer is engaged and happy to see you. 

The Broken Virtual Communication Loop 

In a virtual environment one or more channels of verbal or nonverbal communication is often eliminated (when people have their cameras off), or limited,(when you can see only your customer’s head, not their full body language.) Without the full range of verbal and nonverbal cues that give context and meaning to other’s words, we are like a newly blind person, struggling to make sense of disconnected communication fragments. 

Let’s place the same scenario above in a virtual environment and see what happens: 

  1. You smile, which sends the message that you are happy to see your customer.
  2. Your customer smiles – but you can’t see it because they don’t have their camera on. 
  3. You nervously rush through your meeting as you have incorrectly interpreted that your customer is not engaged or happy to see you.

In order to have more natural conversations on video calls and avoid creating unnecessary anxiety for yourself (and confusion for your customers!) you need to have strategies for handling these unavoidable loop breakdowns. Learning to communicate with confidence regardless of whether you receive the verbal or nonverbal confirmation you’re used to receiving is a vital skill for sales success. 

Here’s how to start having more natural conversations on video calls:

  1. Become friends with your camera.
    Why? Because the camera is the vehicle through which you communicate with your customers.  If you perceive your camera as your enemy, a necessary evil, or simply a harsh judge, how can you possibly be your best “natural” confident self?  The answer is, “you can’t.”
    It’s important to see your camera as an ally – even a champion.  Because like a mirror, the camera will reflect how you feel about it to your audience. People who are “natural” and “engaging” on video love, or at least like, the camera.  And like any friendship, you have to work at it.

    You can read exactly how to make friends with your camera here. 

  2. Sharpen your active listening skills.
    Regardless of whether you can see your customer or not, there is still much to learn from not just what they say, but how they say it. The sound and tone of your customer’s voice can provide clues as to whether your customer is engaged, losing interest, or confused. If the words don’t match the tone, there’s a potential problem. Taking words at face value on video is foolhardy. 
  3. Leverage Your Peripheral Vision. 
    Surprise!  You actually can read body language AND maintain eye contact with your audience. Learning how to leverage and rely on your peripheral vision allows you to see major movements or changes in your listener’s body language – all while keeping your eyes focused on the camera.  

Find out how to read body language – while looking at the camera, here

  1. Get comfortable with the pause.
    Yes, it’s uncomfortable to be silent on video – especially after you ask a question. But you absolutely must resist the urge to fly right through those important pauses. Give your customer enough time to take in your meaning or formulate an answer to your question before forging ahead. Remember, just because you can’t see your customer contemplating a response, doesn’t mean nothing is happening.  
  2. Act As If.  
    Actors and broadcasters use this technique of acting as if they can see the other person in the camera lens to talk more naturally on video and better connect with their audience. You can apply the same technique to bring out the best in your and give you a natural, conversational pace that engages your customer.  Simply by using your imagination to project a specific person’s image onto the lens will focus your brain and you’ll be able to respond as if you are talking to a real person (which you are btw, you just can’t always see them!)

    Read how to use the Act As If method for more natural conversations in “The Secret to Being Great on Video.” 

Learning strategies for how to have more natural conversations on video is a game changer. Not only does it make it less awkward for your and your customers, but it allows you to repair the broken virtual communication loop and engage in a dynamic conversation—whether your customer has their video on or not. 

This is just one of the tips that I include 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. 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!  


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