As a sales advisor, my pre-pandemic practice involved a lot of in-person meetings and phone calls, plus a few video calls. Lately, it’s all Zoom, all the time. It’s not uncommon for me to start with a video networking call at 7am, do several video client meetings and/or sales training during the day, then wrap up via a remote mastermind or “virtual happy hour." The latter typically occurs after 5:30pm, though there are days when my peers jest about the potential need to start much earlier depending on how things go over the next few months.
My kids poke fun at my “Zoom shirt” and my “Zoom face.” They catch me looking a few inches above their heads instead of directly at them as if to compensate for the position of a webcam lens. And, we officially have more ring lights than task lamps in this house now.
All that revealed, the new video call culture isn't likely to change any time soon. Here are a few observations and tips that may be helpful to you in the meantime:
MUTE AWARENESS: Prior to the pandemic, it was more common for one person to say to the others, “Oops! Sorry! I was on mute!” Now, pretty much every video call includes somewhere between two and 742 exclamations of, “You’re on mute!” Meanwhile, there are people not on mute who really should be. While we can each be more self-aware, assigning someone to be the host or moderator for larger calls is a good best practice.
VIDEO ON FOR ALL: It’s super awkward to show up on camera only to see a black box with the other person’s name. It’s like going to a meeting with a creepy one-way mirror. Can they see me? Do I keep my camera on or also turn it off? Why isn't this a phone call? More importantly, why am I wearing real clothes and makeup for this? As a fix, explicitly set the expectation when sending a video call link. If you receive a video link and don’t intend to use video, let the sender know that. When in group sessions, plan to be on video for the duration. If you don’t feel you need to participate, work that out with the meeting organizer in advance.
ATTENTION SPAN: A lot of salespeople have been clutching their pearls about not being able to visit their prospects in person. However, video can be a real advantage if you’re focused and observant. By the way, if you think you’re being discreet in checking email or scrolling Facebook, you’re not. We see you. There’s an old adage in sales, “When the other person is talking, you are winning. When you’re talking, you are losing.” On video, you’re also losing when you’re multitasking -- especially when the other person is talking. Watch facial expressions and observe body language. Tune in to tone and volume. Use the power of video to be an emotional detective. They are handing you sales clues on a silver platter.
CAMERA POSITIONING: The aforementioned advantage is also somewhat deterred when the other person is looking at the top of your head, inside your nasal cavity, directly into your “Zoom shirt” or, in one unfortunate case, at your “Zoom pants.” How and where your face appears on the screen matters. You should be well-lit and centered on the screen with even space around your head. Make sure your focus is at eye-level. Hint: If we can tell it's time to dye your roots or trim your nose hairs, you need to adjust (and also take care of those things.)
OTHER QUICK TIPS:
Don’t eat during a video call unless it’s specifically designated as a “meal” meeting.
If drinking, turn to the side and slightly off camera to take a sip instead of showcasing your slurping gullet.
If you wouldn’t yawn or burp in someone’s face, don’t do those things on video calls.
Pay attention to what’s happening behind you. (Like that time my cat groomed his nether regions during my sales training. Lesson learned. Doh!)
Use tech features designed to help diminish “Zoom Fatigue,” such as whiteboard, chat, reactions, polls, and breakout rooms.
Bask in appreciation that we don’t have to say, “Oh - you go. No… you go… it’s okay, you go..” 27 times a day anymore, as we did in conference call culture.
Be as kind and patient as possible. As the cliche’ commercials say, “We’re all in this together.”
And finally, ask for help! Please know that I am here for you. In addition to my experience as a sales trainer and Certified Virtual Presenter, I also have some amazing third-party 'virtual selling' resources at my fingertips. Let's chat!