It’s hard to get back into work mode after the Christmas break, but it’s even harder than usual this year. Working remotely isn’t easy and being away from colleagues can be tough, so how can we connect with our friends, colleagues, and clients in an appropriate and effective way when we’re speaking online?
I think it all starts with us being kind. It’s about being more ‘human’ than usual.
Video conferencing is a very technical medium. The sound of our voice is compressed and our image is digitally pixilated so that, unless we’re careful, we can easily come across as robotic and emotionally detached.
But there are three things we can do to help bring back real humanity into video calls. We should consciously try to have a kind voice, kind eyes and show kind behaviour.
To make your voice sound relaxed and emotionally connected, try The Mini Fire Breath just before a call. This simple exercise takes less than 90 seconds:
Breathe into your lower stomach, for a count of 3 and out for a count of 3. Do this 3 times. But on the last out-breath, when you have no air left in your lungs, hold your breath for 10 seconds. Then breathe in for one slow, full breath and hold again for another 10 seconds. And then release.
It’s great for your voice but it also calms your mind too. If you do this regularly, you’ll start to enjoy the sense of peace and silence you feel when holding your breath. I do this exercise before every call.
Another thing that helps develop a kind voice, is learning to trust the microphone. We should never feel we have to shout at the screen. In fact, because microphones are so sensitive, most people could probably halve their volume on video calls. We shouldn’t feel we have to project our voice. Just try to speak at a natural volume, as you would when talking to a friend over a coffee.
Most of us are currently spending far too long on our computer screens and, if we’re not careful, we could cause long-term damage to the health of our eyes.
So, to relax and calm your eyes before a call, try this exercise:
Rub your palms together, then put your warm palms over your closed eyes and keep them there for 30 seconds. This gives your retina a chance to recover from the glare of the screen. It also feels gently calming.
The other thing you can do is to turn the brightness of the screen down by 30%. This will relax your eyes and stop you looking like a rabbit caught in headlights.
And finally, because we’re holding eye contact with the screen, both when we’re speaking and listening, we should try to keep a little smile in our eyes (where appropriate, of course). It’s very easy to look stern on a call but The Inner Twinkle makes you look engaged with the conversation and makes it look like you want to be there!
We don’t want to look down at someone on Zoom call – we want to have equal status. So try lifting your laptop by putting it up on a couple of books. Then, with the camera about eye height, look directly into the lens, just as you would if you were looking into their eyes.
Try to use people’s names whenever you can. When working remotely it’s great to hear someone saying your name. It makes you feel valued and noticed.
So, if you’re hosting a call, try to welcome everyone by saying their name.
To create a sense of natural flow, we should make it clear when we’ve finished speaking. The Mute/Off Mute nature of video calls means that conversations can easily feel stilted and blocked. Essentially, we must learn to hand the ball back. This encourages others to know when to come in.
And try not to speak over people as they are talking. Make them feel you are truly listening by either looking gently into the lens or making notes. Take time to be a kind listener.
Let’s be kind and try to make other people feel special on a call.
Most of us have adapted how we connect with friends, colleagues and clients over the last 9 months.
I’ve moved much of my coaching online and I’ve actually come to love it. It’s not quite the same as meeting face to face over a coffee, of course, but if we consciously try to build a human connection every time we join a video call, I think it can work pretty well.
Add a sense of kindness on Zoom this year.
I wish you the very best of luck for a safe and happy 2021.