Video conference or tele-conferencing is no longer the way of the future. Thanks to Skype, Go-to-Meeting, and other services, it has evolved into one of the ways we communicate in business. But for too many people it remains awkward at best, avoided at worst. It doesn’t have to be.
No matter how many people you have watching on the video conference, treat it as a one-on-one conversation. Too many business people approach a tele-conference as if they are suddenly broadcasting. Guess what? Broadcasters—at least the good ones—treat every broadcast as a one-on-one conversation with the viewer. Sure there might be 25, 50, 100 thousand viewers, but a good broadcaster connects with them one-on-one simultaneously. The same principle holds for a tele-conference. You don’t have to take on a broadcaster voice, start talking much louder, or change your vocabulary. Just talk, act, move the way you would in a professional one-on-one meeting.
And when you are talking, look at the camera, not the laptop or phone screen. If you look at the screen when you’re talking you will look like you are looking off camera at something other than the person or people on the other end. That gets distracting and undermines your communication. Look at the screen when they are talking; look at the camera when you are talking.
It takes a little discipline to get used to looking at the tiny camera on your laptop or phone when you’re talking, but that one thing has a huge impact on the difference of the communication. You wouldn’t avoid eye contact in an in-person, one-on-one conversation unless you had something to hide or feel embarrassed about. When you accidentally avoid eye contact on a tele-conference by looking at the screen instead of the camera you create the perception that you’re hiding something.
Stop hiding, start connecting—one person at a time.