How do you build presence over video?
We recently read an article claiming that many of Hollywood’s biggest stars don’t watch their own movies. The top 2 reasons: the “Insecurity of seeing my face on the big screen, what if I don’t like how I look?” and “I will be too judgmental about my performance and that will impact future performances.” The actors believe if they watch themselves on camera they will start thinking rather than acting and therefore perform without presence.
Think about that for a moment. An actor must be present to be believable and bring the audience along for the ride. And when you set up a video call with your client, isn’t this what you are trying to do – create engagement? Herein lies the single biggest key to building relationships via video conference: be present.
In chapter 2 of our book, “A Dragon Walks into a Meeting – A Tactical Guide to Account Management” we address the importance of putting your clients at ease and video conferencing is no exception. In fact it is more critical than ever to master the art of relationship building via video conferencing. The single biggest way to make that happen is to be present.
The internet is full of advice about how to appear your best on video: clothing, personal appearance, lighting, camera at eye level, stare straight into the camera, etc. Most of this advice is well-intentioned, but actually creates distractions in your mind that limit effectiveness with clients. Instead, focus on presence. So what does it mean to be present? To be present is to rid yourself of distractions and focus on listening and engaging.
We have three main recommendations to eliminate anything that could take your mind away from the conversation at hand:
- Attire: forget about it after the call begins. This doesn’t mean you should show up for a video conference looking like “the Dude” in your bathrobe and shades. It means put on something respectable but comfortable and then don’t give it a second thought. You don’t want to dial in and see everyone in button ups with you sporting your favorite stained tank top, so put in some effort before the call. On the other hand, if you are slightly mismatched (your client is in a sport coat and you are in jeans) we can assure you no one will remember. What they will remember is if you are disengaged because you’re thinking about your appearance.
- Appearance: control what you can and let the rest go. You can control minimum grooming, but once that is done consider your work complete. If you are preoccupied with the way you look you will not be present. In fact, we highly recommend turning off any self-view capability with your video conferencing program. It is impossible to simultaneously take a mental measurement of your complexion and absorb your client’s message, whether it is business or personal.
- Put away electronic distractors. This means everything, including your mobile. Turn off all background apps that pop up with trivial messages that may seem important but are not (eMail, instant messaging programs, text chat) – they only serve to distract and reduce your presence.
These distractors may seem trivial, but do cause real engagement issues. We see it every day: you may think you are listening but you aren’t. Worse yet, your client will know you are not listening. Don’t let your concern with yourself (attire, appearance, etc.) get in the way of your mission – growing your client relationship.
If Hollywood’s elite find more down side than upside to seeing their likeness on a screen, shouldn’t we all take a note? This certainly doesn’t mean avoiding video conferencing, but rather to make peace with it. Master the art of building relationships via video conferencing by eliminating distractions and instead engaging. Now you are ready to embrace the new era of relationship building!
A Dragon Walks Into a Meeting is our guide to the best tactics for a professional account manager. Pick up a copy today to learn the tactics that make new account managers into seasoned professionals.