Virtual Body Language

mature-businessman-at-computerCommunication technology has completely changed the way we connect with people to conduct business. It has opened global markets and fostered the use of geographically dispersed teams – including multiple site organizations and remote or home working.

But not all technology is created equal. Lean technologies, like texts and email, offer limited social cues. When you add voice and image you employ much richer sources of communication. We were born with the innate capability to communicate through our postures, gestures, facial expressions, and vocal prosody. In fact, our brains search for and expect these most primitive and significant channels of information. According to Dr. Thomas Lewis (an expert on the psychobiology of emotions and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the university of California San Francisco), when we are denied these interpersonal cues, the brain struggles and real communication suffers.

There is no doubt that using a visual medium can be a powerful way to connect with people, but I once watched a Chief Executive Officer give an entire video presentation bent over notes on a table in front of him while the audience (his entire organization, since this was an “all hands” event) viewed the top of his head. Then, because the camera was much too close to him, when he occasionally glanced up, his eye movements looked exaggerated (making him seem agitated) and his hands kept flying in and out of frame as he gestured.

The effective use of visual technology comes with practice and experience. Here are six techniques to keep in mind for your next videoconference:

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Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., president of Kinsey Consulting Services, is a keynote speaker, executive coach, and leadership consultant. Clients include 105 organizations in 24 countries. Carol is a leadership contributor for Forbes and the Washington Post. She has authored eleven books. Her latest book is The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help or Hurt How You Lead. A leading authority on leadership, change-management, collaboration, and body language in the workplace, Carol has been cited in media such as The Wall Street Journal, Industry Week, Investor's Business Daily, CNN's Business Unusual, SmartBrief on Leadership, Executive Excellence, Oprah.com, NPR's Marketplace, Fox News, and the NBC Nightly News. Carol has served as adjunct faculty at John F. Kennedy University in the International MBA program, at U.C. Berkeley in the Executive Education Department, for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States at their Institutes for Organization Management and is a current faculty member with the Institute for Management Studies.

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