Are you a first-time Zoom user? If you’re like any of my friends, chances are the answer to that question is YES. Or maybe your team has chosen Facetime Calls, or GoToMeeting or Google Hangouts or Skype or any host of other video calling platforms to meet during this time of social distancing.
It doesn’t matter… what does matter is you’ve been thrown into a communication platform/channel that you’re not familiar with technologically. And, that’s making you nervous because like any person, you want to put your best foot forward.
I’ve been doing video-conferences, video sales calls and video sales pitches for about a decade now. Today, I want to share eleven of my favorite tips to ensure your video meetings are successful.
Stop Showing Them Your Nose Hairs
If you’re like most folks, you’re video calling off your phone, tablet or laptop. And most likely that device is sitting below your eye level and you’re looking slightly downward at it.
Lift the device up so that the camera is at a 90-degree angle to your eyes and at or slightly above eye level.
This way, you’ll be looking straight at the lens and appear as though you’re looking into the eyes of the person(s) you’re having a video call with right now. Trust me, it makes huge difference.
Start With Video Off
When you create a video call invite, if you can, set the participants video to OFF and let them manually activate their camera.
This will give them a chance to make sure their area is presentable before they allow you into their “office.”
Further, it will create a bit less anxiety on their part and gives them a little sense of control.
Make Everyone Activate Video
Now, while you should let them choose when to activate their video camera, do make sure you force them to activate it.
The whole purpose of a video call or video sales call is to see one another and give yourself the chance to make a stronger connection. Also, adding the video feed ensures that both you and your sales prospect (if this is a sales call) are PRESENT in the conversation.
It’s that last point that is truly important for everyone, not just salespeople. We live in an ADD world where getting someone’s undivided attention is darn near impossible. So in this case, let the technology help you achieve that all important presence.
It’s Not a PowerPoint Call
There is a reason they call it video conferencing. The technology should be used to first and foremost give you a chance to form a connection with the person(s) on the other end of the video stream.
But if all you do is share your screen and hide behind a little 2″ x 2″ video streaming box, you’re missing a huge opportunity in the relationship building power of good video calls.
If you need to show something, a visual aid, a photograph, a PowerPoint slide, anything really, then do it… but as soon as you’re done talking about it or everyone has had ample time to digest it, unshare your screen and return the call to a full video conference.
Again, that puts everyone’s attention back on you — and reestablishes that presence I’m always harping on.
Call Them By Name
If you’ve ever sat through a focus group you start to notice the moderator will call on quieter members of the group by name and ask them specific questions to draw them into the conversation.
This is a powerful technique to utilize when you’re participating in group video calls. Often it’s difficult for video call participants to know when someone is done speaking so not to speak over others. Hence, members of a group call can tend to swing the pendulum too far to one side — resulting in folks holding back or not actively participating.
If you see this happening or if you know that a particular person SHOULD have an opinion on something being discussed, draw them in with a polite probing question and directing it to them by name.
Socratic Questioning For The Win
I’m a big fan of the Socratic approach to questioning. It requires a bit more PREPARATION before a meeting or sales call, but the investment has never let me down and more than pays for itself in the form of better outcomes.
If you’re unfamiliar with Socratic Questioning and how it differs from regular questioning… read this from Wikipedia
Socratic questioning is a form of disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes, including: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we do not know, to follow out logical consequences of thought or to control discussions. Socratic questioning is based on the foundation that thinking has structured logic, and allows underlying thoughts to be questioned. The key to distinguishing Socratic questioning from questioning per se is that the former is systematic, disciplined, deep and usually focuses on fundamental concepts, principles, theories, issues or problems.
Given the “talking over others” issue in group video calls (not unlike traditional group conference calls) applying a Socratic approach can help you guide the discussion, keep it “on track” and most importantly, ensure inclusivity for all participants.
By establishing a cadence of you asking a question and then waiting for a complete answer before your next question or probing follow up question, you consistently build in pauses to the conversation.
It is during these pauses where you can really pay attention to what little body language you can see or audio cues you can hear to make sure the other person(s) is still actively engaged in conversation and create “spaces” for your prospect(s) to fill in the audio blank you’re creating.
Oh Hear Me… Oh Hear Me
People will watch bad video but they won’t stand for poor audio. If they can’t hear you, the call will be a total loss.
Invest in a good microphone or use airpods or some kind of headset. If possible, I’d say get a decent microphone. Even if you’re doing video calls from a phone or tablet, they make lots of good microphones that will attach to the phone/tablet.
Maybe it’s just me, but I do so hate seeing folks wearing headsets on video calls. It’s like it reinforces the weirdness of video calls vs face-to-face. So I like to opt for a more natural appearance by using a good web video conference camera with a good built in microphone or I attach a high quality USB microphone like a Snowball.
Let There Be Light
Another great little investment is lighting. It doesn’t have to be some expensive set up like you see in a television studio. At a minimum, just make sure you’re not sitting in front of a door or window. It will cause your video feed to go dark due to the backlighting.
If you really want to ensure optimum video quality, even in lower light environments, and you want something that will work with a phone, tablet or computer, pick up something like a Lume Cube. It’s what I use and it’s easy and works great. Or just put a lamp in front of you with a 100 watt bulb 😉
Video Call Housekeeping Issues
Ok, so let’s finish this up with three simple housekeeping issues that will make all of your video calls, especially video sales calls more effective.
First, make sure everyone knows how to use the technology… this will ensure everyone is free to focus on you and your message. Create a simple “How To” primer and include it with every video call meeting invite.
Second, make sure everyone enters their full name (first and last) in the name box when they log in. That name will appear in their video feed, making it so much easier for you to remember who everyone is and to call them by name when you’re trying to pull them into the discussion.
Third, record the call. Most video call services have the ability to record the call. For some services this may require the purchase of a third-party plug-in or software, but for many products like Zoom, it’s a simple 1-click option. Regardless, record your calls. This frees you up to pay attention, be PRESENT, and provides you with a transcript of the call for future reference.
Looking For Video Sales Call Training?
If you don’t feel like you or your sales organization really understands how to conduct effective video sales calls, we can help. We’ve been selling with video sales calls for almost a decade and we can create custom webinars for you based on your organization’s technology comfort level and social selling IQ.