Career Development

Tips for Conveying Emotions Effectively on Video Calls

Even though video calls have become more routine, there’s always room for improvement and especially when fine-tuning the way you communicate and convey emotions.

Whether you’re working remotely or onsite, one thing hasn’t changed: the sheer amount of time nearly all of us spend in meetings. Since the beginning of the pandemic, video conferencing has skyrocketed. Yet the majority of meetings—whether onsite or virtual—are time-consuming to organize and prepare for and largely unproductive. Most of us complain that having so many meetings hinders our ability to fulfill our role’s necessary tasks and projects. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our number of meetings has been increasing by 13% on average, per a Harvard Business School study. But by their very nature, video calls can be even less productive than in-person meetings due to inherent barriers to both effective verbal and nonverbal communication. In short, it can be challenging to express emotions during video calls but there are ways to be more effective and communicate better.                                      

Becoming a More Effective Virtual Communicator

If you learn how to convey emotions effectively on video calls, you’ll not only enhance your overall communication but can simultaneously improve relationships with your colleagues. 

Research conducted by the University of Cambridge has shown the key role that nonverbal communication plays in how people empathize with one another, emphasizing that being able to interpret nonverbal cues is critical to comprehending and anticipating people’s intentions and actions. 

Following are simple steps you can take to ensure that your colleagues truly understand what you’re expressing verbally and nonverbally.

Keep It Professional

First, always be professional. It’s easy to forget the importance of social cues when you’re on a Zoom or Skype session, for example. Always remind yourself that even if you’re speaking from your bedroom and wearing sweatpants, you’re in a professional setting with your colleagues.

Better yet, consider dressing professionally for your video calls. If possible, also establish an area in your home as a professional office space, being mindful of what appears behind you on camera. You’ll come across as much more professional if you’re seated before a bookcase or artwork. Or consider selecting a free, appropriate Zoom background.

Be Prepared

Take a few minutes to transition from your current task to mentally prepare for your upcoming call, since that should enable you to give your full attention when you join your video conference.

Don’t Be Anonymous

Not everyone loves using their video camera during a call, but it’s essential to ensuring that you are conveying emotions effectively. Although this may seem obvious, always use your camera, since it’s more personal and helps you to convey warmth and engagement.

Keep your camera at eye level and look into it directly, so that it appears you’re maintaining eye contact.

Always remember that you’re on camera. Be careful not to engage in habits like fixing your hair or subconsciously touching your face, e.g., smoothing your eyebrows or chewing on your lip. Such behaviors may make you appear anxious, bored, or even incompetent. Instead, replace these behaviors by simply smiling and nodding your head to confirm your understanding and appreciation of everyone’s contributions.

Think Before You Speak

Be careful not to speak too casually. Rather, speak in a friendly, professional manner just as you would in the office.

Enunciate clearly and pause frequently, so that everyone can process what you’re saying. Speak with a strong voice, rather than softly, since you’ll more effectively retain everyone’s attention.

Your Tone of Voice Matters

Project your voice with confidence, and vary your voice’s tone and pitch to keep everyone engaged.

Never speak in a monotone, as attendees will tend to drift off and remember nothing of what you’ve said.

Common Sense Etiquette

Put yourself on mute when you’re not talking to keep background noises from disturbing your calls. Never put yourself on hold, subjecting your colleagues to on-hold messages.

Final Thoughts

Even though video calls have become more routine, there’s always room for improvement and especially when fine-tuning the way you communicate and convey emotions. Always remember John Powell’s words of wisdom: “Communication works for those who work at it.”


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