In video calls we are only able to convey body language with our upper body. Here are six ways you can exhibit positive body language during video calls or virtual meetings:
1. Keep your hands away from your face, neck and chest: Body language experts have identified all sorts of gestures that we unknowingly do when we are uncomfortable or nervous, but since virtual meetings only show our upper bodies, we need only be concerned with those upper body gestures. Common examples of self-soothing gestures are rubbing the face, chest or neck. Women will commonly fiddle with a necklace, men will commonly rub the back of their neck or adjust their tie. Unless you want to exhibit your discomfort, keep your hands away from your body or simply sit on your hands if you cannot keep them away from those areas.
2. Lean In. When you want to show that you are intently listening to someone or when you want to make a specific point, lean in to the camera, just as you would lean forward as if you were speaking to someone in person.
3. Maintain a positive facial expression: If you took a snapshot of the average virtual meeting participants at the times when they are not speaking, you would probably assume that most are bored, disengaged, or have a stern expression on their face. These expressions are what the person who is speaking sees, and can cause them to wonder if their message is getting across, if there is disagreement, or if people are even engaged at all. On the other hand, unless our resting face is a smiling face, a constant smile will appear contrived So how do you maintain a pleasant facial expression when you are a listener? By adopting an expression of curiosity. Simply part your lips and relax your jaw. You will notice your face soften, and you will appear more engaged.
4. Laugh Even When You’re Muted: Have you ever told a funny story on a video call and you were met with thinking or listening faces or maybe a couple of smiles, but you wanted the energy of a laugh? As a listener, you can edify whoever is speaking and show engagement by laughing out loud, even when you are on mute. Although the speaker will not be able to hear you, they will see your laugh.
5. Raise your hand: Many introverts or shy individuals have confessed that they don’t speak up in virtual meetings because they are afraid someone else will start speaking at the same time. So they wait for the perfect time, and the group is then on to another subject. Without being in person, it is sometimes difficult to know who is going to speak next, and by simply raising your hand you will be sure to not risk interrupting someone else.
6. Wave: Unless you are at a formal meeting, waving is a friendly gesture. Have you noticed that on video calls when someone shows up late, they are usually not acknowledged non-verbally? A wave is a friendly way to welcome them (as long as you are not having to “welcome with a wave” lots of latecomers and therefore it becomes distracting). Also, waving goodbye at the end of the meeting is another friendly gesture before signing off.