Video business meetings have become a way of life. Here's the reason why you need to get good at video conferencing . . . right now!
This article is the last in my three-part series on video-based speaking during the coronavirus or COVID-19 epidemic. The first piece was on why online public speaking training is more important than ever. The second (last week's) covered how to improve your presentation skills for videoconferencing.
Today, I'll share something that I learned in the past few weeks while providing Zoom-based video speech coaching. It's something that I think you need to keep in mind for speaking successfully in business, especially in the current situation.
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This doesn't concern training and preparing for the new norm of video-based communication, as my previous articles did. This time, I'll be talking how to do your best when you're actually presenting on the new "performance stage" that's being forced upon all of us.
Why Your Video Conferencing Skills Matter Now
If the shutdown we're all experiencing had been short-lived, this skill wouldn't be as important as it actually is. There would have been a period where meetings and even some presentations took place online. But then we'd quickly have gotten back into the swing of in-person sales pitches, team updates, and all the rest.
But that's not what's happening. Many of my clients—and I'll bet you too—aren't just practicing talks via video meetings. They're now delivering them that way. So Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, or whatever platform you use is now the actual stage where you're performing.
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That's important news for any company offering video-based coaching and training—but also for speakers, presenters, sales people, and anyone else now conducting business virtually. The great advantage of improving your skills in front of your webcam, then, is that this is the way you'll actually be presenting. Rehearsing in your office or home never had that advantage before now, since you'd always be speaking in another location.
That's why you need to get good and improve your skills at video conferencing right now. I discuss below how you should go about it.
How to Practice a Video Conference Presentation
A second advantage of preparing for a video conference with the same tool you'll be using in performance, is the ability to record your practice. In Zoom (the software I use), screen recording is effortless, and just as valuable as videotaping in face-to-face interactions. Come to think of it, "face-to-face" is an appropriate term for video-based meetings as well.
Here's how I suggest you put your talks together, so you know how to elevate your performance into great speaking. Start speaking out loud as early in the process as possible. Don't spend too much time in the "literary" realm of writing notes and then editing and polishing them. Get in the speaking mode right away, because the oral arena is where you'll be showing your stuff. That is, once you know what you want to say and are clear on your purpose, start speaking, and only write down what sounds "right" in terms of how you want to reach the audience. By the time you finish, you'll have a ready-made speech, and not a lot of notes that may or may not be on the mark when you're actually talking about them.
At that point, it's time to practice and record yourself in front of your webcam. When you watch yourself, you'll see and hear exactly what everyone else will be experiencing. You couldn't buy that level of accuracy before now, unless you had planned for a video meeting in the first place.
Think of it, in this age of enforced video conferencing, as a small but significant silver lining.
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Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in theater-based public speaking training. His company, Boston-based The Genard Method offers in-person and online training to help executives and leadership teams achieve true influence. In 2020 for the seventh consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as one of The World's Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was recently named as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." Contact Gary here.