When stay-at-home orders were put in place as a result of COVID-19, businesses had to adapt to a new way of interacting with their teams. Since they could no longer meet face-to-face, many organizations looked to the next best option: video conferencing. But it turns out that video conferences are a lot different than in-office meetings.
While the meeting content and attendees are mostly the same, the presence of a camera makes everything feel a little bit different. You’re constantly asking yourself, “Where should I look?”, “What should I do with my hands?”, and “If I’m not talking, will they still see my webcam?”
(Before we go any further, the answer to the last question is yes – your fellow attendees can always see you when your camera is on!)
But when it comes to how your present yourself physically during video conferences, you probably need to be more mindful about your body language than you are during in-person meetings.
And since there’s a good chance online meetings will become an ongoing part of everyday work life, it’s probably a good idea to brush up on proper virtual meeting etiquette! Here are our top five body language tips to make sure you look professional and engaged during video conferences.
1. Straighten your posture
When working from home, you may find yourself working at the kitchen table, then on your couch, then in your bed, and then in your car just to get out of the house. But when it’s time to login into a meeting, make sure you’re in a location where you can sit up straight—at a desk, kitchen table, etc.
Maintaining good posture during a meeting makes you look more engaged. Good posture also increases your self-confidence, which will help you be more involved in the conference and improve your overall experience. And let’s be serious, dialing into a virtual meeting while lounging on your couch is not a great look.
2. Maintain eye contact
While you can’t really make “eye contact” during a video conference, be sure to look at your monitor when speaking. While your coworkers can’t tell if you’re looking directly at their picture on the screen, this type of eye contact makes online conversations feel more human.
You can also use the grid view to help you feel more connected as a team. The grid view allows you to see every member of your meeting at the same time. So, while you’re talking, you can watch their facial expressions to see how they’re responding to your comments in real time.
And when you’re not talking, continue to keep your eyes on your monitor. People can tell if you’re looking just off-screen at your phone or TV. So, keep your distractions to a minimum, and give the speakers your full attention.
3. Control your facial expressions
Even when you’re on mute, your face can still speak volumes. Try to maintain an amiable expression. You can do that by keeping a moderate smile and slightly raising your eyebrows. If that feels too forced, just try to keep your face looking neutral. Avoid frowning or scowling while other people are speaking.
Just remember, there’s a camera on your face. So, any time you feel like your face may be communicating too much, glance over at your video and make adjustments as necessary.
4. Keep your hands in check
Just like your face, your hands can say a lot about your true feelings. Rubbing your chin can be a sign of judgment. Inspecting your fingernails shows boredom. Propping your head up on your hands also shows you’re bored.
To avoid sending the wrong signals with your hands, try to keep them out of the frame. It’s always safe to have them resting in your lap or on your desk.
If you’re someone who talks with their hands, use your hands as you normally would. If you think too much about it, you’ll look unnatural and awkward. Just try to avoid touching your face, which we’re supposed to be doing anyway, right?
The bottom line is if you’re truly relaxed, your body language will take care of itself. If you’re stressed about being on a video call, that stress will come through in your body language.
But what is there to be stressed about? While you may feel uncomfortable being on-screen, you’re meeting with the same people you always do. Don’t let the change of venue and new technology throw you off; just take it easy.
Your body language says a lot about you and what you’re feeling. And during video conferences, you can’t hide your body language. So, make sure your body is saying the right things by staying relaxed and engaged.
Expertise and Best Practices for Embracing Remote Work
Don’t forget to visit our new remote work resource center, with more tips and best practices on how to master the shift to working from home. We will be continuing to update this page and our social channels with educational materials from both LogMeIn staff and third party experts.