How to Project Confidence and Energy on Zoom – Even if You Aren’t Feeling it on the Inside
Eileen Smith CEO Insider October 19, 2020
Let’s say today is the big day and you are not feeling it. You’ve got that morale building speech to give at your company’s all-hands meeting, you’re coming in to close a deal with a client, or it’s just a regular day, packed full of Zoom meetings while you work from home for the eighth month straight. Working from home amid the pandemic is associated with a dramatic drop in employee mental health at all levels, according to a study done by the Martec Group, a global market research firm headquartered in Michigan.
Go ahead and acknowledge what you and many others are feeling. With the pandemic, economic worries, politics, your family situation, the weather growing colder, and the sun setting earlier every day, you have plenty of reason to be missing the spring in your step. That said, slumped shoulders and a low energy presentation can overpower anything you have to say. Your organization is counting on you and the show must go on.
On Zoom, all people have is their view of you on the screen. Body language is a key part of the impressions people form the first moment they see you. If you are feeling down on the inside, you can use body language to project confidence and energy on the outside.
Body Language Life Hacks
Stand Up – Probably the most powerful change you can make to add confidence to your body language on Zoom is to stand up. This immediately improves your posture and adds vitality to your presentation. Because the event is on Zoom, other participants may not realize you’re standing. However, they’ll perceive your increased energy and improved posture as signs of strength. If your pitch is longer than you want to stand up comfortably, try sitting on a stool instead of a chair.
Power Pose – You can immediately boost the amount of confidence you project by putting your hands on your hips. Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy’s study showed that this simple move will make you appear, and maybe even feel, bolder. Other options are to put one hand on your hip and the other hand down. Or try spreading your hands apart on the desk in front of you. Making yourself larger in this way is the same thing animals do in the wild when they want to impress.
Use Your Hands – Gestures are a great way you can use body language to project energy and a positive outlook over Zoom. When you are not busy power posing, use your hands to illustrate your words. You might want to record a practice video to be sure your hands are saying what you think they’re saying. Keep your gestures within the camera frame so they are not lost or discordant.
Home Office Life Hacks
Curate Your Background – Before your event, make sure your home office is showing you to your best advantage. Set up a background you are proud to reveal to your colleagues. Shelves of books or interesting objects are great. Maybe some pieces of art or plants, as long as they don’t look like they are coming out of your head. The most important part is for the background to look neat and professional. Move those piles of housework and dangling cords out of the camera view. Check out these recommendations for a background that projects gravitas.
Use Light and Camera Angles to Your Advantage – Arrange your lighting so it highlights your face. A ring light shines directly where you want it, offers warm, white, or blue lighting, and adjusts brightness easily. If you aren’t ready to invest in a ring light, a floor or table lamp just behind your camera and a touch to the side will work well. Lighting that comes from behind you can put you in a shadow. Lighting right above your head can create dark circles around your eyes. Too much light coming in from a window can compete with your interior lighting and wash out your face. Adjust your camera lens so it is at or just above eye level. No one wants to look up your nose. You don’t want to create a double chin by looking down. Back away from the camera so your face takes up 1/3 of the screen and your hand gestures are visible. This feels more like being together in person.
Package all this with eye contact by looking directly into the camera lens. Throw in a genuine smile if you can manage it. With these body language tips, you can present an energetic, positive image, even if you are having an understandably down day. With all the difficulties in our world right now, everyone can relate. However, when your business is counting on you and your team needs you to deliver, make these easy changes to project energy and confidence. You can still bring it, even when you aren’t feeling it.
Eileen Smith is a public speaking coach and former diplomat. She founded Spokesmith, which helps businesses, think tanks, and universities deliver their message. Eileen prepares clients for the podium, media interviews, board meetings, pitches, panels, presentations, and video conferences of all kinds. Eileen's clients include think tanks, businesses, lawyers, and non-profits. Whether her client is preparing to stand before an audience, sit on a panel, or give a media interview or group presentation, Eileen provides tailored, confidential coaching for groups and individuals in public speaking and executive presence. Eileen Smith is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.