I’ve been noticing a new, rather disturbing phenomena that seems to be settling in on many of my virtual conversations. The sound is good, the camera is sharp, the connection seems adequate, and the lighting is generally fine. In our race to master this unique form of communication, there is one element that seems to be getting left behind and forgotten: It’s our face! Many of us are developing something I call “monotone face.”
I think most of us associate the word “monotone” with our voice. When you listen to someone speak in a monotone voice, you’re hearing a voice that has little to no range. It doesn’t really go up, it doesn’t really go down, and it doesn’t change speeds. It just kind of sounds uninspired, and hangs there like the air on a hot, steamy, day. In fact, it creates an impression that convinces others that you just don’t care.
Well, regrettably, this vocal condition is now spreading to our faces. Maybe it’s because we are getting so darn comfortable in front of the camera, we are actually forgetting we’re in front of a camera. Remember, many of us have spent a lifetime on a phone where our faces can get away with murder! However, with virtual communication, we no longer have the luxury of just focusing on our voices. We’re front and center from beginning to end, so we’re going to need to make a few adjustments.
Watch Your Entrance And Exit Nothing says “monotone face” louder than coming on camera with a confused scowl, or exiting the call with a similar puzzled grimace. Have that smile ready to go before that camera light goes on, and once you say goodbye, hold that smile until that call has ended. That means about a minute beforeyou say your goodbyes, move your mouse right on top of the “End” or “Leave Meeting.” That will eliminate a smile that turns a bit stale while you fumble your way off the call.
The Camera Is Your Friend It’s no secret that looking the person you are speaking with in the eyes is not really looking that person in the eyes. When you communicate virtually, you’re looking below your camera when you make actual eye contact. Don’t stare that camera down, but when you want to punch up the conversation, or make an important point, move your gaze up, and look that camera right in the eye!
Acknowledge You’re Taking Notes I’m a guy who likes to take notes when I speak with others. It can seem flattering, and certainly convinces him or her that you’re listening. This works great when you are speaking face-to-face, but there may be other consequences when communicating virtually. You not only risk “monotone (face,” but you also risk looking distracted and uninterested when you take notes. If you’re taking notes on screen, remind the person you’re speaking with that you’ll be taking notes… and do this more than once. If you’re taking notes with a pen and paper, once again let them know you’ll be taking notes, and let them see it. I make a point of actually scratching my nose or gesturing with my pen, and bringing my pad of paper into view from time-to-time.
Bring Your Hands Up The more you gesture with your hands, the more interesting you become; that will bail you out if your face tends to get a little monotone on you. However, unless you’re pushed way back from the screen, cameras tend to miss your normal hand gestures. That means you’re going to need to bring those hands up a bit to be seen, and if you do, they’ll take the focus off of just your face.
Have A Beverage I’m going with the assumption that when you’re face-to-face, or with your friends, you don’t battle “monotone face.” A cup of coffee, tea, water, or any other beverage of your choice will unconsciously send signals to the body to relax a bit, while sending those same signals to those you are communicating with. It also tends to help the face and body to be more at ease.
The good news is that suffering from the dreaded “monotone face” is not a prison sentence. Anyone can change how he or she comes across on screen. By following these process behavior suggestions, you’ll be able to keep your face looking animated and interesting. In turn, that will keep the people you’re speaking with interested in you and what you have to say.
Want to listen to this BLArticle® read by the author? Tune in to “Pocket Sized Pep Talks” and you’ll hear a collection of BLArticles®, conversations, and interviews updated often! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/pocket-sized-pep-talks/id1497772972
I recently did a podcast with a wonderful, new, and up-and-coming star named Jahmaal Marshall. His podcast is called, “Listen Then Speak.” I’ve done a lot of podcasts, but we got into topics I rarely talk about, and I’m quite sure you’ll enjoy the show! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/listen-then-speak/id1550684472
I’ve appeared on the “Small Business Advocate Show” with Jim Blasingame for almost 20 years now, and you’ll find dozens of our conversations on his website. We just sat down a few weeks ago for a great conversation about selling fundamentals and the strategic use of stories. Here’s a link to over 100 interviews done over the years, including my most recent interview that explores our many behaviors we display that are based more on a default mechanism than actual logic. https://www.smallbusinessadvocate.com/small-business-experts/rob-jolles-134
We posted a video series on delivering amazing online presentations with my friend, Jeremy Webb. We go over some great stuff including:
- How to Select the Best Equipment for Online Presentations
- Pro Tips for Sustaining Interest in Online Presentations
- How to Look Like a Pro!
- Public Speaking Anxiety Tip
- Virtual Office Setup for Online Presentations
You’ll find the whole playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRO7BsBDl6oL-6ZPW3O01x-g5PiR38ljL
I sat down for an interview with one of my favorite podcasters, Jay Izso, on his show, “A New Direction.” We sat down for a little over an hour and went at it! If you’re presenting online, you’ll want to hear this interview. Normally, I sit down for a few minutes… but not with Jay. We go over a LOT of helpful hints here! Here is the direct link to that interview:
- Why sales is a transferable skill but marketing is domain-centric.
- The important consistencies and differences in teleconference sales.
- Why objections are good.
- Why product knowledge is overrated.(Don’t shoot the messenger!)
- My Three P’s of sales performance.
I was recently interviewed on the “Salesman Podcast,” which was a lot of fun. If you’re looking to Change Minds, check out this podcast: https://www.salesman.org/the-simple-step-by-step-process-to-influence-anyone-with-rob-jolles/
I loved talking about the book, Why People Don’t Believe You on a podcast that I’m sure you’ll like called Onward Nation: https://predictiveroi.com/podcasts/rob-jolles/
After 30+ years as a professional speaker and trainer, one of the most common questions I get is this: “How do we make sure the training sticks?” Take a moment and listen to this podcast; “SalesChats” with John Golden. If you want to know why most training fails, listen up! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR3dDOlTK7U&list=FLxBXKhqz0xBwbUPMqNthAJA&index=2&t=1293s