If you can become a great orator, you can change the world!
Before my son, Elliot, turned 6-years-old, I had him listen to all of MLK’s speeches. I told Elliot, “If you can become a great orator, you can change the world.” This doesn’t just go for my son but for all of us.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching how MLK was able to connect with his audience in such amazing ways.
That’s why it was such an honor to speak in Atlanta (MLK’s birthplace) and Memphis (MLK’s assassination site) and see Dr. King’s history brought to life.
He could take any idea and passionately move an audience to action with it. This is why many consider him to be one of the best orators of the last century.
But how can WE do this today? Most of us aren't talking to thousands of people on a stage like Dr. King. We're connecting with our team on virtual platforms like Zoom.
Every time we do this, it's an opportunity for us to inspire and persuade our audience to action.
BUT...most people still don't know how to effectively connect virtually.
Being a great Zoom conversationalist is not only a science; it’s an art form.
Let's dive in…
What you'll learn in this blog post
In this post, I’ll first cover six tips to improve your online verbal skills that pay off immediately.
I suggest you:
- Don’t interrupt
- Shut up and listen
- Keep it interesting
- Ask great questions
- Reiterate what’s been said
- Significantly lower your expectations
Then, I'll list five ways to enhance your non-verbal communication.
The non-verbal points we’ll cover are:
- Make yourself big.
- Mirror the other person.
- Establish good eye contact.
- Provide feedback while others speak.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
Want additional resources? Check out these podcast episodes:
Your online presence will be noticeably sharpened when verbal and non-verbal skills are practiced together.
Valuable Verbal Skills
Let’s begin by grasping six small but powerful tricks and strategies you can use to enhance your Zoom conversations.
- Don’t Interrupt. You may be done listening, but the person you’re talking with might not be done speaking. Make sure to wait until the other person is completely done talking before you respond. Just by doing this, the other person will appreciate you.
- Shut up and listen. Listening is half the battle toward becoming a great conversationalist. Use proper eye contact and pay close attention to the other person's words. Look into the camera! Try to avoid altogether pondering what you want to say next. If you pause and wait two seconds after the other person is done talking, you will force yourself to become a better listener.
- Keep it interesting. Unless there was a recent, devastating hurricane in your area, no one is interested in the forecast, so avoid discussing the weather. Instead, I have a couple of recent stories ready to go at a moment's notice. To do this, stay on top of current events. Also, if you know what the other person is passionate about, you can utilize that information, too.
- Ask great questions. Ideally, it would help if you didn’t have to do most of the talking during your Zoom conversations. If you get great at asking well-thought-out questions, the other person will do most of the talking. Make sure to ask open-ended questions that empower the other person to talk. Asking excellent questions is a simple way to keep the person you’re talking with fully engaged.
- Significantly lower your expectations. When making “small talk” during your Zoom calls, we often want to be the most fantastic conversationalist on the planet. It’s not necessary to be a perfectly polished speaker to leave a positive impression through a conversation. Lowering your expectations allows you to relax and have a more natural conversation.
- Reiterate what’s been said. Take time to verify what you thought you heard. Part of being a great communicator requires properly relaying information so the other person knows what they said was received and understood.
Superior Non-Verbal Skills
Developing excellent conversational skills for Zoom calls is extremely important, but these are only half the story. Now, let’s focus on non-verbal skills and ways to use your body to communicate positively. So much of our communication is non-verbal! It is a compelling and influential medium. Ensure that you’re communicating with maximum effect! You must understand what you’re doing with your body to alter your body language. Set up a video camera and record yourself interacting with others if possible. What you see might surprise you. Observing yourself is a significant first step; you’ll notice many movements you’d like to replace. But you must know how to improve your habits, so enhance your body language and your communication skills with these tips:
- Make yourself big. Don’t be afraid to take up a little space, whether sitting or standing. Spread your arms and legs slightly. Insecure people tend to do the opposite and attempt to appear small. Show that you’re confident enough to claim the space around you without apology.
- Mirror the other person. Within reason, mirror the other person’s stance and mannerisms. If you do it too precisely, they’ll think you’re crazy. Keep it mild, but adopt a similar style. Mirroring is a common neuro-linguistic programming technique. You can find plenty of additional info online.
- Establish good eye contact. This can be tricky. Too much eye contact is creepy. Too little comes off as weak. Strive for 75% eye contact. Avoid appearing distracted when you look away from the other person’s eyes (the camera).
- Provide feedback while others are speaking. This means nodding, saying “mmhmmm,” or occasionally providing other input. It lets the other person know you’re fully engaged and paying attention. Avoid overdoing it. Remember that you’re supposed to be listening.
- Keep your hands away from your face. It’s distracting when someone touches their face during a conversation.
By boosting your ability to have a great Zoom discussion, you will put yourself in a position to enhance your career. Adopt a new technique each week and practice each day. You’ll notice that people treat you differently in just a few weeks.
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