Face the Camera Videoconferencing can't really substitute for face-to-face meetings, but it can help agents and employees feel connected to senior executives when the company is undergoing change--and these days, what company isn't?
"Whether you're starting to underwrite a new kind of business, or an acquisition is in the air, videoconferencing is an effective way to communicate subtleties and nuances," says Frank Carillo, president of Executive Communications Group in Englewood, N.J. (www. ecglink.com).
But communicating to an audience on camera requires a different set of skills, and a different wardrobe, than live presentations. Carillo, whose company teaches CEOs at Fortune 100 companies communication and presentation techniques, offers these tips:
* Don't wear black or white: White tends to glow too brightly while dark colors turn muddy. "You can't see the lapels of a black suit jacket, for instance," says Carillo. He recommends solid, toned-down colors like light blue, medium gray, tan, and cream that minimize the contrast between clothing items. "Sharply contrasting colors drive the camera crazy," Carillo advises.
* Look straight into the camera lens, speak slowly and deliberately, and don't let your eyes flicker. When your eyes move around, your brain processes what it sees and "ums and ahs" creep in to your speech. It takes practice to hold your eyes still. Do it when you're talking on the phone in your office by focusing on inanimate objects like doorknobs or light switches.
* Avoid reading from a teleprompter. Audiences don't feel special if they think they are being read to.
* Watch your gestures. Do spread out your arms to express a big idea. Don't make jerky body movements.
* Keep it short. One-way announcements from senior executives should last 20 minutes or less.