How to hold someone’s attention on a video call

In video calls, we are afforded the ‘luxury’ (if you can call it that) to zone out and stop paying attention. In a group video call, someone can mute themselves and appear to be ‘present’.

This can be a hindrance to those of us who are required to keep people’s attention in a video call. If you are presenting or pitching a product or selling yourself as the best candidate for a job, you want to keep them interested and listening to what you have to say.

Having said this, the dilemma of keeping people’s attention isn’t restricted to people who have something to ‘give.’ Team meetings across the corporate world are happening online, and managers and team leaders want to make sure their team continues to work as efficiently as possible by receiving important messages loud and clear.

To do this, there are two thing we need to focus on: your voice and the message.

Your voice

Your voice is going to play the biggest role in the extent of your success. I know what many of you are thinking “ugh, I hate the sound of my voice!”.

Most of the time we listen to our own voice via a tiny speaker such as that of a phone, and so we don’t hear it as other people do. So, chances are your voice sounds much better than you think!

We have to learn to ‘own’ our own voice – it’s who we are! No two voices sound the same. Everyone has their own unique voice, even two accents from the same region will have some differences. Have you ever picked up the phone and known who it was just from the slight breath they take before they speak? That’s your proof!

Owning your voice means to use your natural voice. Have you ever heard someone speak and realised that they’re putting on a voice? Not only is it easy to spot a fake voice, it’s incredible exhausting for the person to have to keep it going.

By using your own voice, you’ll sound confident and authentic, and people are more likely to give you their attention throughout the call.

I know of someone who recently did a pitch on a call. He unfortunately did not win the pitch because the client was looking for someone with a bit more experience in the field, but the client did say that he really enjoyed and liked how he explained himself and his services, and would keep him in mind for smaller projects and spread the word amongst his circles. This was down to being authenticity and ‘realness’ the client heard on the call.

The message

Your voice is the engine that delivers the message to other people. However, if the message is incorrect or inappropriate, the impact of a really good voice will be minimal. So, what type of message should we be delivering?

Naturally, your message should be relevant. For example, if you’re in a job interview, nobody really wants to hear a long blurb full of self-praise of  how good you are. Your achievements are important and the milestones you’ve met are incredibly worthy of singing about, but you must make them relevant to the hiring managers. You do this by changing your tone from self-praise to a problem solver. Instead of merely going through a chronological spiel of what you’ve achieved, talk about your merits in light of how they can solve the company’s problems. They’re obviously hiring because there is a need to be met or problem to be addressed, so if you make sure your answers are describing how they’ll solve a problem, you’ll have them all ears!

The next thing to do is to make your message concise. If you can explain it in 10 words, don’t use 20! At some point in our professional lives, we’ve all been in long drawn out meetings that could have been done in a fraction of the time or even via an email! Waffling on without adding any substance to what you’re saying will switch people off. And once people are switched off, it can be a big task to get them back on board!

The last thing your message should be is clear. We all have the tendency to use large and complicated words in an effort to sound intelligent and to give the impression that ‘we know our stuff’. Ironically, using unnecessary jargon has the opposite effect, the people listening in will struggle to understand what you’re saying and may even think that you don’t know! What’s more is that you are intelligent, and you don’t need to use these flawed ways to get that across! Break it down in a professional, yet everyday language to make it easy to understand and this will ensure you get your listeners respect for you, your authority and expertise.

Much of what is required to hold people’s attention on a video call is the same as in traditional meetings and presentations. Naturally, video calls are very voice orientated so much of what we need to refine is in that area as it will directly influence the quality of the delivery of your message.

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“Robin hosted a tremendous “New Normal” session with the Cibus Fund team. He broke the ice brilliantly, kept the pace and made it interesting, educational and, above all, fun!  Two thumbs up.”

Robert Appleby

Co-Founder, ADM Capital

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