Body language involves the subtle, non-oral cues that we pick up – subconsciously, in many cases – that are important for being able to comprehend not only the meaning of words, but what’s actually transpiring within a meeting. Positivity or negativity, for example, are often expressed through body language. Body language is also a necessary element for ascertaining the level of engagement in a meeting, and a very important means for synthesizing information. Being able to look at someone when you’re speaking and understand whether they’re comprehending the content of the conversation or not allows you to reposition the thought so that they do understand it. All meetings are affected by body language – or by its absence.
Body language and virtual meetings:
Virtual meetings leverage technology to basically erase the distances that exist between people who are working together. But audio conferences have one major drawback, and it’s that you’re dependent on intonation and voice for all your communication. It’s like not having your eyesight. Meeting without body language is very limiting, and can prevent all parties from getting a complete picture, creating inefficiencies.
One the other hand, video virtual meetings let you make use of body language, opening up better communication. They let participants use the same tools they are accustomed to using in live meetings; not just audio but also visualisation, body cues and body language. A video meeting is best suited to people who are conscious of the fact that those things are still really important in the virtual space.
Body language and culture:
Video technology is also ideal for cross-cultural virtual meetings. Without the ability to use body language in an engagement with someone of a different culture, language differences make the situation that much more complex. Even accents can add another layer of difficulty to a meeting. There are certain significant cultural differences in body language, in the way that people from different cultures show positivity or negativity or comprehension or understanding. However, some things are inherent across all cultural spectrums, like smiling and eye contact, which are always an indication of affirmative engagement and positivity. The ability to read body language makes a huge difference for people who are trying to communicate from different linguistic backgrounds. When you are able to make use of visual cues, it dramatically improves the efficiency of the meeting.
Body language and better communication:
If I could tell a client only one thing about body language, it would be: be conscious of it. You’re most often picking up subconscious cues, but if you’re conscious of body language and physical cues then you can really learn a lot. Things like maintaining eye contact, and using your hands or gestures to be able to convey messages, are all wonderful ways of improving the way you communicate. Being conscious of not only how effective you are as a communicator, but the way you communicate, helps you to be a better communicator in general.