In the first part of this story, you got tips for facing a fear bigger than death by learning to come alive in the online space. After practicing these tips, you can straightjacket your jitters, rein in those runaway sentences, and get grounded. In this second part, you’ll get five more tips to help you speak authentically on Skype, WebEx, Google+ Hangouts, or wherever your online feet take you—once again, with additional tips for introverts.
1. Act the part, own the space, lead the peeps.
If your boss tells you last minute that you have to sub for her at a vital video meeting on a topic you only know peripherally, focus on what you know, rather than apologizing for what you don’t know. Call on others for their expertise and, when necessary, say you’ll follow up with additional information.
INTROVERTS: Speaking on the fly is often outside your comfort zone. Take an improv class to build that muscle. (Stay tuned for my upcoming chat about improv for introverts with Beth Buelow, the coach, author, and popular blogger who runs The Introvert Entrepreneur.)
2. Strike the right vocal chords.
Do you know what you really sound like? Listen to the outgoing message on your voice mail for clues. You may take your voice for granted. Or maybe you hate the sound of it. When you speak online, make every word count, rather than trailing off at the ends of sentences. “Punch” key words for emphasis, and vary your tone and pacing. Also, remember these essentials for projecting your best voice: hydrate, stand or sit straight, and enunciate. Not to mention avoiding verbal graffiti: um, er, you know what I mean?
INTROVERTS: You may tend to get lost in thought. Remember to speak up and keep the pace lively, particularly online.
3. Look happy (or at least unsad).
3. Look happy (or at least unsad).Be mindful of your facial expressions which are especially noticeable on video, with close-ups, high definition and all. Remember to smile (or even half-smile).
INTROVERTS: You can look less than engaging while you’re concentrating and listening; externally, that can look intense, serious. So show your pearly whites both when you’re speaking and listening. I’ve noticed many of my introvert clients look up, down, or away when they’re thinking. Be mindful of how that looks on video. Get videotaped presenting online, and review what you do right and what you need to tweak.
4. Make eyes with the camera.
The best way to connect with your viewers and online conversation partners is to appear to look them squarely in the eye. That means looking smack dab into the lens of the videocam. If it is positioned on top of your screen and you’re using a program such as Skype, then move up the other party’s image as close to the videocam lens as possible. You may have heard to look at the lens as if it’s an old friend; you might even try taping a photo of a friend close to the video lens.
INTROVERTS: Treat your “eye contact” with the camera as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation with a friend in your living room—as opposed to an auditorium full of people (not in their underwear!).
5. Take a chill pill, fidgeters.
Don’t touch anything—your face, your hair, or your pen, even if it’s dying to be twiddled! Practice gesturing naturally, and avoid big motions which can make you look like an orchestra conductor if you’re in a small frame (head and shoulders). It takes practice if you tend to get nervous presenting, online or in person.
INTROVERTS: Revisit the “introvert bubble” we discussed in the first part of this story to get re-energized and centered. Doing so will help keep your fingers from doing the jitterbug.
Finally, our world is changing. Speaking online is going from a nice-to-have to a must-have skill in many careers. So if you haven’t already done so, stick a toe in the online waters today. Whether you’re freshening your online skills at a global organization or angling for 15 minutes of fame on YouTube, take a breath, give a talk, and post a link. I’ll be cheering for you. (Quietly.)
Copyright © 2013 Nancy Ancowitz