Mastering Nonverbal Communication in Virtual Meetings & Across Cultures: Tips and Insights for Success

Mastering Nonverbal Communication in Virtual Meetings & Across Cultures: Tips and Insights for Success

Many people have heard or read the data about the importance of nonverbal communication in conveying information. Experts often report that nonverbals are more powerful than the words we actually use.

In fact, studies suggest that nonverbal communication accounts for 70 to 93% of communication  – including body language, gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, voice (volume, rate, pitch, and timbre) and personal space.

Nonverbal Communication In Virtual Meetings

With the rise in remote work and digital meetings, translating nonverbal cues has hit some rugged terrain. While the world is slowly recovering from the pandemic and yet many workers remain dispersed, business communication is at the mercy of various onscreen technologies that don’t necessarily capture nonverbal skills.

Bridging the gap between physical and virtual communication has thus become a critical challenge. In light of this reality, professionals must adapt their approach to nonverbal cues and reassess the importance of visual engagement in the digital landscape.

Vyopta, a leader in digital collaboration user experience management, and Wakefield Research conducted some interesting research around remote work and camera use.

According to their findings from last year, “93% of executives say employees who turn their camera off are generally less engaged in their work overall.” The data reveals that “the lack of engagement opens the door to executives making assumptions about employee behavior. More than two in five executives (43%) suspect that employees who are on mute or off-camera entirely are browsing the internet or social media, texting or chatting (40%).”

True or not, these nonverbal cues often drive assumptions about performance and engagement. This does not necessarily mean individuals must permanently activate their cameras. However, executives and employees must be aware of the perceptions being off-camera may create – accurate or not. To ensure that your nonverbal cues align with your verbal communication and support your objectives, consider the following tips when on camera:

  • On-Camera Background – Does the background present the image you want to express to the meeting participants? The background could be your actual room or a virtual background. Either way, consider what it communicates about you and avoid distracting backgrounds.
  • Posture – Similar to an in-person meeting, consider what your posture expresses about your interest and engagement. Sit toward the edge of your seat, shoulders back, and head up.
  • Eye Contact and Facial Expressions – Look directly at the camera when speaking and be as facially expressive as possible to convey engagement.
  • Gestures: Use hand gestures to emphasize your points, but be mindful of excessive or distracting movements.
  • Voice: Aim for variations in tone and pitch to convey your emotions and engagement. Speak clearly and avoid mumbling or speaking too fast.
  • Personal Space: Ensure that you are visible in the camera frame and maintain a comfortable distance from the camera.