Video conferencing tips for building your credibility

Robert Simpson

Robert Simpson

President & CEO

For the last 20 years, Robert has specialized in strategic communication and public relations, focusing his passion for storytelling to help organizations achieve greater impact. As PR Associates’ leader, Robert plays a role in collaborating with clients and our teams to develop strategies and create experiences that deepen audience engagement.

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but many people using video conferencing platforms look and sound bad.

Since Covid-19 forced us all to work from home and use video conferencing platforms to communicate, I’ve seen incredibly intelligent people have their insight undermined by body language, the sound of their voice or unfortunate lighting and framing that leaves me staring up their noses instead of hearing what they say. When this happens, not only does what they say become less important, but their credibility also goes out the window.

With virtual communication becoming the norm, I’m convinced the biggest mistake people make is they forget they’re on camera where they are judged 55 percent by what they look like, 38 percent by how they sound and only 7 percent on what they say.

Yes, only seven percent of what you say. You read that right. That means your body language, the sound and tone of your voice and how you frame yourself on the screen is more important for establishing and maintaining your credibility than what you say.

It’s a shame. I know.

In our virtual presentation workshops, we provide participants with the skill they need to be on camera and successfully build credibility, tell capitating stories, shift mindsets or move markets.

Here are a few tips that will help you build credibility on your next virtual meeting, quarterly conference call or sales pitch.

Lighting is the key

One of the simplest ways to up your virtual presentation is to improve the lighting. The angle of the light, ambient conditions beyond your windows, and your background’s brightness all play critical roles in making you look fully human and capable of what you do. The light behind you will put your face in the dark. Light beside you will cast strange shadows, and a fan twirling overhead will create a strobe effect. The most important principle about lighting is to make sure the primary light source is directly in front of you.

Frame yourself properly

Every camera operator knows that framing (what’s on the screen) plays a big part in how audiences perceive you as a communicator. The farther away or more obscured you appear, the less engaging you will be. In a video conference, your head and the top of your shoulders should dominate the screen.

If your head is cut off at the top or bottom, you’re too close. If your entire torso is in view, you’re too far away. If only half of your head is in sight, adjust the camera.

Look into the camera

Every presentation coach will tell you that direct eye contact is a vital way to reinforce your point. In a video conference, this means looking into the video camera. Speaking into a cold black circle will not feel natural or comfortable — as humans, we’re trained to look at the people we’re talking to — but know that entertainers and politicians have been doing it for decades.

In our virtual presentation workshops, we provide participants with additional tips for improving presentation skills by connecting with your audience, how to focus on your audience needs, understanding core messages, connecting with your audience, the 10-20-30 rule for slide shows, how to use and organize storytelling, using your voice effectively, using your body, too, and how to overcoming nervousness.

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