What are you looking at during your Zoom calls?

How do I look….is my hair working today…what are others wearing…what books are on their bookshelf….why are they not showing their face…..I love their artwork….who keeps walking by in the background….I hear people speaking…turn on your mute.

Albert Mehrabian developed a communication model, which demonstrated that only 7% of what we communicate consists of the literal content of the message. The use of one’s voice, such as tone, intonation and volume, make up 38%, and as much as 55% of communication consists of body language.

Does this mean people won’t remember what you said but they will remember your outfit, hair, facial expressions, hands moving, smiling, not smiling, messy room, etc.?

Based on this research what might you continue doing, stop doing or start doing while Zooming with people?

I had the opportunity 30 years ago to attend a “Presentation” workshop in Boston. It was three days of learning to understand and appreciate how to leave the audience with an impact and a message. We were filmed eight times over the course of three days. After each filming a coach would sit with us and review the short film clip. The coach would give us feedback on our tone, body language and words. We received a template for creating our presentation and loads of tips to “wow” the audience.

But what made the biggest impression in our work with this company came on the last afternoon. We were asked to deliver a five-minute presentation on any topic. They asked us to use a flip chart (this was way before PowerPoints were created). We had 10 minutes to create the speech using the colored markers and flip chart paper.

One by one, all eight of us gave a five-minute presentation. I chose “How to Build a Dog House”! You can only imagine my drawing. She let us all go before giving her debrief. Her question once we were all done was, “What do you remember about Nick’s presentation … Julie’s presentation … Whitney’s presentation?” and so on.

What did we all remember? Think back to Mehrabian’s research … you guessed it: all we remembered were the drawings on the flip chart, not the tone or the words but the pictures!

So now what comes to mind when you think about your last 20 Zoom calls? What do you remember most? If you are eager to influence your audience with impact, think about your body language, background, clothes, furniture and hit the share button when sharing your data. And if you have data to show that you want people to remember, add a picture next to the data. Consider what you remembered the last time someone presented a bunch of data with size-8 font filling the page? Use a picture to accentuate your delivery.

Hopefully the next time you think about your Zoom appearance, you’ll remember this Pink Flamingo picture and be inspired to try something new with your communication!