With an extreme rise in organizations and businesses around the world using video conferencing as a meeting solution this year, the importance of non-verbal communication is a good topic to touch on. Video calling isn’t the only time non-verbal communication is important, of course, but right now it is the most relatable use for many people.
Non-verbal communication increases understanding of messages. Especially in the workplace, a message’s success depends on how effectively you are able to get it through. Facial expressions, gestures, body postures and eye contact are all types of non-verbal communication that can affect the way your message comes across. It helps to complement or contradict statements, and can create a great impact. According to research, between 65% and 80% of our communication with others is non-verbal.
Maintain Eye Contact
Maintain eye contact when speaking to others, or when others are speaking to you. In a meeting, maintain eye contact to show the other party that you are interested and engaged. While giving a presentation, maintaining eye contact with the audience shows confidence, and also helps then stay engaged. Making direct eye contact provides others with the comfort needed to communicate with you in return. Be mindful, though, not to turn your attempts at eye contact into an unrelenting stare; moderation is the key.
Video meetings can make keeping eye contact strange. You don’t need to constantly be staring right into the camera, just make sure to pay attention to your screen. Wandering eyes can be distracting, and give the impression of carelessness.
Use Facial Expressions
Your facial expressions are the quickest way to convey your emotions. Regardless of language, facial expressions are understood by everyone. They convey the same message globally, for the most part. Your face can display many emotions, really heightening your nonverbal communication. When a smile is not called for, be aware of your expression and react accordingly. A look of seriousness when your work is being critiqued or a sympathetic response to someone’s expression of difficulties can go a long way to conveying your engagement with the situation.
Mind Your Posture
Pay attention to your posture, because it can be a telling signal. If you sit with bad posture, you give off the impression that you are unengaged and uninterested. Posture can provide a significant amount of important information through nonverbal communication. Psychological studies have demonstrated the effects of body posture on emotions. If you use good, confident posture, you will feel better and more confident. If you have a strong, awake posture, you will feel more awake and in tune with the speaker.
Be Considerate of Personal Space
Pay attention to your proximity to others. Different cultures view proximity in various ways, so take notice if the person you’re communicating with is uncomfortable. This could mean that you are standing too close, and should create some distance between the two of you. The amount of physical space given can convey many emotions.
Even in video conferencing, your awareness of proximity is important. Don’t get too up close and personal to the camera, or people may feel put off.
Be Aware of Your Tone/Sounds
The tone of voice, and the sounds and signals you make might be the most important non-verbal communication cue. Your tone of voice and the sounds you make can communicate your thoughts to others without your even speaking. If you receive directions from a manager and immediately grunt, you are showing your manager that you do not agree with what he said. Your tone or sounds can inform people of your anger, frustration or sarcasm. Avoid sighing repetitively or speaking in a high-pitched voice. Speak softly and calmly.
Check out this infographic about the importance of nonverbal communication for more tips: The Importance of Nonverbal Communication