Updated: Sep 22, 2020
How many times have you felt the need to meet your client face to face, but in person instead of a screen? How many times has your boss asked if you were able to get an in-person meeting with your client ever since the un-lockdown kicked in? Been there, done that.
Well, face-to-face meetings through the screen are the new normal, but they weren’t invented yesterday. Corporates have been doing them with clients sitting miles away on a different continent or country for ages. But with Covid-19 forcing everyone to take the digital route to meet people, Salestors world over are forced to accept the new normal and mend their ways.
While I agree that conversations are better when you are sitting in front of the person. Body language, facial expressions, voice modulation and ultimately reading between the lines are facilitated when you can see the person without the screen in the middle. But, having said that, the new normal is the current reality that needs to be accepted. So, we Salestors need to amend our ways of communicating with the client.
Here are some things to be kept in mind while having a business communication over the screen.
A Stable Screen: It has to be a stable platform. For many, video conferencing over a laptop might bring more stability than a mobile. Ultimately, it is about having a stable screen where you put the device in front of you and not move around carrying it. A shaking image can distract the person on the other side of the business call.
Background Check: Imagine sitting for a video conference with a prospective client and pictures of your college hangover party, or a pile of dirty laundry in the background, drifting the client’s attention away from you. Be wary of the things present in the background. A blank wall is an ideal background as there is nothing to take the attention away from you.
In any case, try and avoid having business video calls in the kitchen or the bedroom until you happen to have a separate study table placed in there. And if you happen to use online meeting apps like Zoom, don’t use one of the images as the background just because you think they make for a decent halo. I can guarantee that your audience will be peeping over your head a couple of times throughout the meeting.
Ladies, should you still be ditching make-up?: Maybe. Maybe not. Don’t overdo it just because you will be on-screen, but a little touch up will go a long way in giving you that confidence to shine your brightest during that client meeting. A little mascara combined with a not-too-bright dash of lipstick will do. In any case, choose the lip colour wisely. You don’t want all the attention on your lips 😊. Either way, be sure to find the right balance as too little or too much on camera can break it for you. You may want to test your makeup on your mobile camera before going live.
Lighting: Well, that is the obvious next step. After all that goes into prepping yourself for the video conferencing, you don’t want to goof up the lighting that holds the power to showcase your best self. But remember to have the lighting source in front of you and not just at your back or right overhead. Sitting under or against the only source of light in the room will make your image appear dark on screen. Similarly, sitting with your back to the window is not a good idea either. It will act as the source of lighting working against you. Though the best sitting positions in the room are opposite to the source of brightest light in the room, if not possible then lights on your either side would work just fine too if they bring the bling to your face.
Power Dressing: Yes, it still exists. Many of us would be wearing shorts with that crisp white shirt and tie as, of course, no one would see. But there is more to power dressing on screen than meets the eye. Although the definition of power dressing differs from company to company, there are some companies who mandate formals while the start-up guys might be seen wearing smart casuals even during multi-billion dollar deals. In either case, be wary of the contrasting and merging colours with background wall like a bright red shirt in front of a blue wall. It is advised to wear pastel and solid colour apparel and sit against a background with soft colours like white or beige, which work as the perfect background and make you stand out. Bright wall colours like red or orange, or even blue in many cases take the attention away from you. Also, another thing to bear in mind is avoiding patterns on your clothing. Thin stripes and too many patterns can be distracting for the viewer.
Positioning the Camera: Ideally, it should be slightly above or at your eye level, but that seldom happens for those of us doing Video Conferences over laptop or mobile phone. The only doable hack here is to avoid peeping at yourself repeatedly at the small window at the bottom of the screen and trying to sustain eye contact with the camera instead since that is actually where your audience is.
Lock the Door, maybe?: For those of us with kids, and those who do not want a Robert Kelly like BBC interview (watch the remote interview goof up here), locking the door and informing your family about your video calls might be a good idea.
Making Notes: Needless to say, you need a notepad and a paper to make notes during the video conferencing. Sticky notes come in very handy as you can even stick them on your laptop screen for a quick reference.
Check the Deck: If you need you share a deck (or a PPT, in layman terms), you should check, and recheck, it before the meeting begins. Obviously, most of the times with a client meeting, you get only one chance. Make it count!
These may look like a lot of don’ts, but we can always do our best to the extent possible to make the meetings worthwhile. Covid-19 has made the world a small place. Digital meetings are here to stay and so is remotely working from home. Hence, each one of us who needs to conduct business communication regularly might have to consider many of these suggestions that I listed in this article. We could consider creating a video conferencing corner in our homes which checks a lot of boxes for a successful video calling experience for us. So all the best for the next VC experience!