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Build Your e-Charisma

Physical charms that work in person don’t always transfer to video calls

Salespeople tend to think that part of their success is due to strong people skills. Because a good deal of personal charisma is reliant on face-to-face interaction, that part of a sales call went out the window in 2020. If some degree of virtual meetings are here to stay, transferring that skill to an online session is vital.

“E-charisma involves a completely different set of skills and attributes than does [physical] charisma,” Leigh Thompson, a professor of management and organization at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University told The Wall Street Journal reporter Ray A. Smith.

Confidence that is subconsciously expressed in-person through body language is largely lost in virtual conversations. Smith gathered tips from some of those in the know about effective video interactions.

Zoom in to stand out. A video call is no time to be camera-shy. Salespeople should make sure their face takes up at least one-third of the screen, and ideally they are situated in the middle of the screen. As we’ve all learned by now, it’s important to also make sure you are well-lit.

Have a confident voice. If you haven’t already, equip your salespeople with high-quality microphones and headphones. Role playing video calls shouldn’t be out of the question. A focus on rhythm and being articulate will pay off in projecting confidence. The conversation needs to be even more engaging that in-person interactions. It’s OK to use notes, but reps shouldn’t read verbatim from them in a robotic fashion.

Make eye contact. As much as we’ve heard this year that it’s important to look at the camera, not the computer screen, it can be difficult to do. This gets back to not wanting to read from a script.

Create space for others. In person, gestures and posture can cue another participant to speak. That doesn’t work as well in virtual meetings. Limiting points to groups of three and then inviting feedback through a direct question prevents prattling on too long.

Be personable. Using people’s names — “Have you had that type of experience, Janice?” — is a mark of spotlight-sharing that charismatic people do well.  

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