As we enter a phase of life most of us never could have anticipated or envisioned, more and more people are having to work from home than ever.
Job seekers are now having video interviews instead of meeting face to face as part of the effort to minimize the impact of the virus. Even communication with friends and family is going virtual to maintain the much needed human connection with loved ones (albeit through an electronic screen).
Video can make sure that people who are physically quarantined, are separated by distance, or are just keeping appropriate social space aren’t isolated socially. While not the same as a hug or handshake, being able to see people directly over a computer does offer much-needed connection. For many, this will be their first time using technology for remote communication and meetings. If you aren’t used to it, there is a bit of adjustment to communicating over video, but anyone can adapt. I have been successfully using video conferencing with my voice coaching clients for three years. Even though it’s not the same as meeting in person, it can be equally valuable.
Here are My 10 Great Tips to Make Sure Your Voice is Heard and Understood Through your Laptop or Phone, and to make sure your video meetings are as effective as possible.
- Test out the video conferencing software ahead of time. You may need to download an app or adjust your video camera and microphone settings. You will also need to make sure you have a good wifi or data signal before your call.
- When possible, use a headset with a microphone to decrease background noise and make your voice signal stronger for others.
- Make sure you have enough light aimed toward you so others can see your face. Facial expressions provide extra cues for understanding what you are saying in video meetings. For the same reason, avoid distracting background settings when possible so that people will pay attention to you and not what’s happening behind you when you speak.
- For meetings with more than two people, mute yourself when you are not speaking. The person who schedules the video call will have the ability to control the microphones of all the attendees. If you are that leader, take advantage of this feature. Having non-speakers on mute reduces interruptions, eliminates most background noise, and prevents overlapping talking that can’t be understood and wastes everyone’s time.
- Use the chat or Q&A features to collect questions while someone is speaking (versus having people interrupt with talking). If you are the speaker getting questions, be sure to allow time for this in your scheduled meeting.
- Stand up when possible (standing desks are great) or at least be mindful to sit with good posture when you speak to give your voice added power.
- Speak in simple, complete sentences. Try not to go off on a tangent. When possible, finish the sentence you begin. (This is harder than it sounds.) Increase the number and length of pauses to give everyone extra time to process what you have said.
- Enunciate clearly/don’t mumble. Move your lips, jaw, and tongue slightly more than usual. The other people on the call may be relying on reading your lips to help them understand you. (We rely on lip cues more often than we realize, often subconsciously.)
- Take frequent breaths to give energy to your voice and to make sure it doesn’t trail off in volume at the ends of your sentences.
- Look into the webcam when you are speaking. This helps the other call attendees feel like you are making eye contact with them. (Be sure to know where the camera is located so you are looking in the right place.)
Most importantly, let us be patient with each other as we adjust to using video conferencing technology more. Each of us has added stresses in these uncertain times, including worries about contracting the Coronavirus and the effects of social distancing restraints, and we must give each other grace. We can also help each other by sharing helpful advice for coping with our new reality. I especially found this article series by Marcey Rader of the Work Well Play More Institute® valuable, with tips for being productive and staying healthy while working from home.