Important Communication Skills to Have in the Video Call Era
Recently, online activities such as video call meetings and online courses have become enormously common. The lack of face-to-face physical interaction might make it seem like the need for communication skills is no longer as relevant as before. However, the opposite is true.
Communication skills are at a prime value in today’s video call era. The physical limitations of remote work and social distancing mean that we have to make up for a lot of the lost body language. Here are some of the skills you have to develop to adapt to these changing times.
One of the things you need to master when communicating online or even when planning to attend online courses is preparation. Online meetings are unlike conventional settings where all you usually need to do is to show up. Video conferences have a considerable amount of preparation required for every participant. You are responsible for your own tech and environment.
To master effective pre-call preparation for a video call, you can follow a complete checklist of considerations for every call. You will find that most of those considerations are tech-related such as your computer unit, webcam, speakers or headphones, and your software application. You would do well to spend some time getting comfortable with your tech. Familiarization allows you to effectively operate everything during the event and troubleshoot any errors if needed.
Another main consideration you have to take care of in your pre-call preparation is your background and appearance. Although video call applications like Zoom offer background replacement features, it is still more professional to have your own plain background. Carefully choose a “meeting space” that is free from visual and auditory distractions.
Be present and show some personality.
It may sound contrary to what video calls are, but it is ever so important to “be present” during a video call. You are not meeting face-to-face, which means that you need to make an effort to be “felt” by those you are conferencing with. Here are a few tips to help you increase your presence when communicating through video conferencing:
- Sit up straight and direct your face straight toward the direction of the webcam
- Avoid frequently looking down at your notes
- Avoid frequently looking to the side or around your surroundings
- Practice tone variations in your voice to add life to your statements
Just because you talk in front of a camera does not mean that you have to act cold and robotic. Keep in mind that there are actual persons on the other side of the call. They are there to communicate with you, and engaging them ensures you that the information you share and the conversation you have will be memorable.
It is common for many of those participating in a video call to zone out after quite some time. It is, after all, exhausting to sit in front of a screen and listen for hours. The brain will eventually go into “sleep” mode. You’ll notice this when your participants have that glossed-over look on their eyes.
That is why it is important to engage the people you are conferencing with during a video call. On top of being present and observing the tips mentioned above, you also need to do the following:
- Set aside some time at the beginning of a call for some small talk. With video conferences, it is likely that coffee break or watercooler conversations no longer happen. Allot some time for people to settle into the call before getting down to business.
- Address the people on the call. And when you do, say their names out loud and frequently. It alerts them that you are speaking directly to them and so they will feel the urge to pay attention.
- Encourage others to join in. Call someone out and ask for their opinion on a specific matter. Ask open-ended questions.
- Listen attentively and show interest when others are speaking. Make nodding gestures, smile, and ask any follow-up questions about the thing that they have discussed.
- Be yourself—while maintaining professional limits, of course. A video call does not have to be cold and feel fake. Let your personality shine through and encourage others to do so as well.
Repeat and clarify
In an actual face to face setting, being redundant is an annoying thing. However, when solely communicating online, it is a requirement. That is if you’d like people to retain the information shared, especially for instructors of online courses. As more companies transition into remote work, they find themselves trudging into unfamiliar territory.
Tech concerns, such as connectivity issues, are commonplace. There are so many varieties of information storage. And while that is supposedly a boon, people find that it makes certain things a lot more confusing.
Clarity is a prized thing when it comes to video calls and any digital learning materials like online courses, which is why repeating things is a good thing in such circumstances. Think of it as a way to safeguard everyone’s understanding. After all, the risk of sounding annoying is not such a high price to pay in exchange for an entire team’s sense of direction.
To make your repetition more effective and consistent, follow a general sequence of information repetition when conducting meetings. In the beginning, provide an overview of key points. During the discussion, make sure to stress out each important key point as you cover them. Again, as you wrap up, repeat the key points that you want everyone to remember well after your meeting.
Reach out and follow-up
Follow-ups, just like repetition, can be quite the pain in the neck if you are at the receiving end. However, as in both physical and virtual offices, they are potential lifesavers. It is especially important to follow up when communicating online, even during video calls.
It’s not worth missing a deadline or forgetting a vital detail to act cool and aloof. On the other hand, it may have catastrophic consequences and even lose your business a lot of money. Make it a personal responsibility to personally reach out and touch base with everyone regularly in between calls. Encourage overcommunication. Have an open line for any information or concern within the organization through group messaging platforms like Slack or WhatsApp.
Maintain courtesy and kindness
When your organization is still fondling around in the dark with video conferencing, it is only understandable that you encounter several glitches and challenges along the way. Be patient with your team and yourself. Circumstances have altered communication, so everyone, including you, has to adapt to the change. Be forgiving enough to understand that it may take some time for other people to get used to communicating this way.
If you want to learn more about communication, or if you want to improve your communication skills for educational, business, or personal development, here are some online courses from Skill Success: