The first consideration in speaking on video conference calls is to realise that there are important differences when compared to speaking to an audience face-to-face.
You just don’t get the natural connection that happens when people are in the room with you. People are more easily distracted so keeping attention is harder. Furthermore, when they see you on a computer screen your energy and impact is vastly reduced when compared with seeing you in person.
It is however possible to compensate for these challenges by avoiding the following common mistakes.
Camera pointing up or down at you
If you’re looking up or down at your audience, it can create an unnatural feeling. Position your camera at eye level. This will give a professional image. As you look at the camera will give the impression of making eye contact and feel more personal to those watching.
Not using gestures
Frame the screen picture so your gestures can be seen. To achieve this you will need to position the camera slightly further back. Then, use your hands and arms naturally to make gestures as you speak. Gestures ‘paint’ pictures that help people understand you more easily.
Not sitting up straight
Sitting casually or slouching detracts from a serious message and looks unprofessional. Therefore sit up straight sit up straight. Not only will you look more confident, but it will enhance your credibility.
Speaking too fast
People find it harder to catch every word when you are speaking in a video. Therefore slow down and speak slower than feels normal. This will allow your words to sink in. You can go faster now and then to add enthusiasm. Likewise, you can occasionally slow down even more when you want to give special emphasis to a serious point.
Failing to give extra emphasis to key points
Your impact is diminished in remote speaking. To overcome this you need to over-emphasise important points. If you feel like you are overdoing it, then it is probably about right. That extra emphasis will add impact to key messages more firmly in the minds of your audience.
To keep people interested, it’s important to involve them. Make it interactive by asking questions or seeking contributions. You could give people a minute to consider a question or try and solve a problem.
How can hoteliers stay engaged with staff and shareholders without it becoming stale?
Individual staff and shareholders vary in the way they like to be kept in touch with the business. They have different preferences as to the format in which they receive updates. They also differ widely in respect of the level of detail they want to know about. Likewise they have different views about how often they want to receive such information. However, here are some key principles to keep in mind which will dramatically enhance your chances of appealing to most people most of the time.
- Put yourself in the minds of staff and shareholders
When preparing any form of communication, start by putting yourself in the minds of the people to whom you are communicating. Therefore, when preparing to communicate, consider what concerns and motivates those receiving your communication. For shareholders perhaps it is the potential returns on their investment versus the perceived risk. Then write your message accordingly.
- Give regular updates
There is no need to wait for an emergency before updating people, nor to hold on until you have some amazing success to report. Most people appreciate being kept in the picture as the business moves along. Therefore regular updates are opportunities to make sure that people have the latest information even if it isn’t earthshattering news. If in doubt, communicate more rather than less. People are generally happier if you have told them more than they needed, rather than left something out which they later wish you had mentioned.
- Use a variety of channels
In order to reach as many people as possible and to give them information in their preferred format, use many different channels. Many people will not attend an AGM or similar formal meeting. You might use quarterly bulletins or newsletters, short video updates and face-to-face meetings. Some people like to access information at a time of their choosing. Therefore posting information on a website may suit them. Many enjoy using social media which gives you an opportunity to post brief items of breaking news as well as links to more lengthy features.
- Avoid overloading people
Don’t bombard people with information, otherwise they become desensitised to it. Then when you really do have something to vital report, it may be difficult to grab their attention. Instead keep all updates as concise as possible and to the point. Focus on key messages.
- Be open
Don’t hide information that people really should know about. Doing so does not build trust. Furthermore such information tends to come to light at some point anyway. People are left wondering why they weren’t informed before, and the damage is done. Therefore it pays to be open in your communication, unless of course there is a justifiable and compelling reason to keep something confidential.
About the author
Graham Shaw is a speaker coach, Business Book Awards 2020 finalist and the author of The Speaker’s Coach: 60 secrets to make your talk, speech or presentation amazing, published by Pearson