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Sales Video Calls: Body Language, Vocal Tonality And Much More…

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches.

In this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Nick shares how we can best show up and influence buyers on video calls with our body language, vocal tonality, and much more.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Dr. Nick Morgan
One of America’s Top Communication Theorists and Coaches

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Nick Morgan:

What we humans care about more than anything else is each other’s intent. It’s very difficult to tap somebody on the shoulder before the meeting and say, “Well, Will, there’s this little thing that you tend to do in meetings. I just wanted to warn you don’t do that in this meeting because the folks we’re meeting with are very sensitive to that. And if you start doing what you would do in the meeting, they’re going to hate you. And that’s the end of the meeting right there.” Trust is different online versus in person. Trust takes time, first of all.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation, my name is Will Barron, and I’m the host of the Sales Man podcast. The world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. In today’s episode, we have Nick Morgan. You can find out more about Nick over at publicwords.com. On today’s episode, we’re getting into how you can stand out on the stage. That is Zoom, Microsoft teams, Skype, however you’re communicating virtually online. We get into body language, vocal tonality, and a whole lot more. So with that said, let’s jump right into today’s episode. Nick, welcome back to the Sales Man podcast.

 

Nick Morgan:

Will, it’s great to be back. We little thought when we spoke last that we’d be at this a virtual relationship forever, but here we are/

 

Will Barron:

Okay. Here we are. I don’t think things are changing anytime soon from the look of things. So with that, you teed things up perfectly. We’re going to talk about on today’s show we’re going to talk about how we can bring a bit of life to our Zoom calls. When we’re on that stage of, of Zoom, Skype, Microsoft teams, whatever it is, how we can add a bit of life and energy to those conversations and it’s clearly not just sales professionals who are doing this at the moment. So this might be applicable for people outside of that realm as well.

 

What Needs to Change When We Shift From Face-to-Face Sales Meetings to Virtual Conferences? · [01:48] 

 

Will Barron:

Now I want to start the show by being just, this isn’t hopefully isn’t a lazy question. I want it to be massively open-ended here just to get your thoughts before I start leading us down different pathways. What has changed or what needs to change when we shift from a face-to-face sales meeting, sales conversation, when we’re trying to influence people, we’re trying to entertain them, we’re trying to somewhat persuade them to our way of thinking and our products and services? What’s changed in the virtual world versus how we go about things in the face-to-face world, Nick?

 

“What we humans care about more than anything else is each other’s intent.” – Nick Morgan · [02:28] 

 

Nick Morgan:

Yeah, that’s a good place to start. Everything changes. That’s the bad news. It really does. And the reason is a little nerdy. So I’m going to start nerding out instantly on this. What we humans care about more than anything else is each other’s intent. So what I care about when you call me up and say, “Nick, come back on the show,” is what’s your intent? Are you a friendly person? Are you going to sandbag me? Are you going to try to catch me out on some question I don’t know the answer to? I mean, that sounds a little paranoid, but that kind of question, friend or foe, is the first basic question that we ask of every other human being, especially when we meet them for the first time, especially if we don’t know them well.

 

Nick Morgan:

And then beyond that we ask questions like, is this person more powerful or less powerful than me? Can I trust this person or not? And those are of course, questions that you ask of salespeople and that salespeople ask of potential customers. Is this customer for real? Or is he or she just window shopping? Is this person making legitimate claims or is this person going to turn out to be insolvent and completely useless? So there’s a whole series of questions that you ask more or less unconsciously. Those are questions to intent. That is what is the intent of the other person. Now, the reason everything changes online is that that most basic question becomes much harder to answer satisfactorily online. And the reason, the reasons for that are quite nerdy, are quite detailed and specific and they vary according to the technology. But just in the technology we’re using, the Zoom call, or the Skype call, or the teams call, whatever video conferencing facility you use.

 

“(In virtual meetings) We are moved from a three-dimensional face-to-face view to a two dimensional view. And while we modern humans are very used to looking at photographs and TV and the movies, and so we think when we see an image, a two dimensional image that we know how to translate into three dimensions, we actually don’t and we’re not very good at it, surprisingly.” – Nick Morgan · [04:14] 

 

Nick Morgan:

We are moved from a three-dimensional face-to-face view to a two dimensional view. And while we humans are very used to, we modern humans, are very used to looking at photographs and TV and the movies, and so we think when we see an image, a two dimensional image that we know how to translate it into three dimensions. We actually don’t and we’re not very good at it, surprisingly. And so we lose these questions or we lose focus on these questions of attitude and intent. So that’s where it starts. That’s why everything’s different.

 

Nick Morgan:

And then we can get into the details of how it’s different. But the first thing to understand is as I say on video conferencing is going from three dimensions to two, even though I think I’m seeing your face, your face is still flattened out into two dimensions and as good looking as you are Will in two dimensions, in three dimensions, all those facial planes come back and I can see more seriously, I can see your expressions much more thoroughly than I can on a video conference. And so not being able to read your expressions as clearly, in a video I don’t understand your intent, not understanding your intent. Then I have all kinds of questions that I’m immediately going to be asking.

 

Unconscious Questions in The Buyer’s Brain That Seek to Define A Salesperson’s Intent and Trust Level · [05:37] 

 

Will Barron:

And just to double down on one thing you said there Nick, in particular, you said the word, I don’t know if you use subconscious or unconscious, but these are all things that happening in the buyer’s brain. They’re not consciously thinking, do I trust this person? Is this person more powerful than me? What is the overall intent? Is that correct?

 

Nick Morgan:

That’s right. These are all questions that our unconscious minds ask of each other. They’re more powerful because they’re unconscious. Because you’re not consciously aware of them. And so they get asked and answered before your conscious mind engages. So you got that funny feeling, oh, I’m not sure if I trust this person or not. And that means that question has already been asked and answered, in effect. And because it’s unconscious, it’s therefore very fast and very hard to change once it gets asked and answered. So it’s all the more important to pay attention to them. They’re powerful.

 

Nick Talks About The Communication Cues That are Lost During Virtual Meetings and How They Affect Conversations · [06:50] 

 

Will Barron:

And how much of this, we might digress slightly here, but how much of this comes from the fact that you turn on a call and you’re on the conversation and then you turn off the call, versus when we meet people in person, you walk into the room, you probably shake hands. You probably have a few words that you wouldn’t do on a Zoom call. Prior you sit down, you might get all your files and there’s so much body language. And you can tell if someone’s up to something, if they’re nervous, if they’re excited, if they’re happy, how much of the communication is lost just by the fact that we’re chopping off either end of it, by having an online virtual meeting?

 

Nick Morgan:

That’s a great point and one that people don’t think about much. Although I’ve talked to a number of leaders recently who are trying to lead people, lead their teams on video conferencing and they report this problem. It’s very difficult to tap somebody on the shoulder before the meeting and say, “Well, Will, there’s this little thing that you tend to do in meetings. I just wanted to warn you don’t do that in this meeting because the folks we’re meeting with are very sensitive to that. And if you start doing what you would do in the meeting, they’re going to hate you. And that’s the end of the meeting right there. So, so a little word to the wise.”

 

Nick Morgan:

That kind of thing you can do casually and in a way that can feel supportive and friendly, just like the chitchat you’re sort of alluding to at the beginning or at the end of a meeting. All of that becomes awkward and forced on a video conference because it’s set to begin at a certain time and you can chat a bit, but that chat doesn’t feel as relaxed and as natural as it would face to face, for some of the reasons that we’re discussing and a few others besides.

 

How to Build Trust During Virtual Business Meetings · [08:34]

 

Will Barron:

So I feel like, and I’m going to blow this out of proportion slightly. For the power element that you mentioned, we could over-exaggerate this make it really awkward or we could have sit on a high table and point our webcam down at the person that we’re engaging with, if we wanted to try and manipulate them in that way. Clearly it wouldn’t work in reality, but I feel like there’s physical things that we could do to increase, proceed, power, reduce it. We could dress higher status than the individual, we could dress lower status than the individual, but the trust elements of this is what I really get stuck on because I’ve no idea how we can the try and have a bit of chit-chat before a call. What else can we do to build that element of trust on a Skype business meeting?

 

“Trust is different online versus versus in person.” – Nick Morgan · [08:52] 

 

Nick Morgan:

That’s the challenge it’s really, it’s quite difficult. Trust is different online versus versus in person. Trust takes time. First of all, and the very nature of a face-to-face conversation allows for a bit of that time. You do get the chit chat beforehand. You do begin to relax to the person before you start business, the business part of the discussion. And then of course, trust in a different way takes time. It can take months or years to develop real deep trust with somebody. Online we substitute something that’s quite different for trust. We don’t trust in the same way. What we substitute is consistency. And so if somebody’s inconsistent online, we tend to assume they are ne’er do wells or up to no good or dangerous lunatics or something. 

 

“The person who in a face-to-face meeting is used to being able to crack a joke or two, occasionally will find him or herself struggling online. If you go for 20 minutes on a Zoom call, let’s say, and then suddenly throw in a joke, it can feel inappropriate, even if you feel like you know the other person, because you don’t have that sense of connection that you do in a face-to-face meeting, that comes about automatically just from being in the same room.” – Nick Morgan · [09:47]

 

Nick Morgan: 

The person who in a face-to-face meeting is used to being able to crack a joke or two, occasionally will find him or herself struggling online. If you go for 20 minutes on a Zoom call, let’s say, and then suddenly throw in a joke. It can feel inappropriate, even if you feel like you know the other person, because you don’t have that sense of connection that you do in a face-to-face meeting, that comes about automatically just from being in the same room.

 

Nick Morgan:

And let me be clear. There is a real, there’s a very specific neuroscientific reason why we do that and or why we do trust somebody in that way, face-to-face, and why it’s hard to do online. And that is that when you meet somebody for the first time, or even meeting with an old friend face to face, there’s a lot of what we call unconscious mirroring going on. And so as we sit there, we tend to adopt the same posture and coaches like me, people who teach body language, we’ll train people to mirror deliberately in order to increase trust if you want to win over the opposite party in some way.

 

“We humans naturally, unless we’re feeling very combative, we naturally mirror each other’s behaviour. Now, what we tend to mirror is large body language movements. So we’ll sit in motion, we’ll sit in the same posture. We’ll sit the same way in a chair, or we’ll both lean forward over the table that we share at the same moment or that kind of thing.” – Nick Morgan · [11:24] 

 

Nick Morgan:

But we all do it naturally. And it’s not manipulative or nefarious in any way, it’s just a natural part of how humans get on the same wavelength. When we sit down, we’re trying to meet with our opposite party at another company that we’re negotiating with say, or on a sales call, we want to get comfortable with on another, because the alternative is much worse. Who wants to have an uncomfortable conversation for an hour, right? So we humans naturally, unless we’re feeling very combative, we naturally mirror each other’s behaviour. Now, what we tend to mirror is large body language movements. So we’ll sit in motion, we’ll sit in the same posture. We’ll sit the same way in a chair, or we’ll both lean forward over the table that we share at the same moment or that kind of thing.

 

“So we lose a lot of the subtlety of the possibilities of mirroring. And so we don’t build up trust as fast or as much in these online meetings.” – Nick Morgan · [12:13] 

 

Nick Morgan:

That sort of behaviour is very difficult to do well, to mirror well, on a video conference because it’s two dimensional. And so really my emotions are reduced to a very few simple things. I can lean into the camera, but that’s going to look weird if I lean in too far. And your natural reaction is going to be to lean back rather than leaning in slightly. So you lose a lot of the subtlety of the possibilities of mirroring. And so we don’t build up trust as fast or as much in these online meetings. 

 

Nick Morgan:

And that’s a fact, a neuroscientific fact, which is just very difficult to get around. You can do it a little bit. And there are strategies we can talk about just to give you one, for instance. You can mirror the language of the other person. So if you start talking and you use the word sales incessantly, then I might use the word sales more frequently than I normally would to. That’s not as effective as mirroring body language, but it helps a little.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. There’s two things. Well, three things. One, I have this phenomenon regularly when I meet guests that I’ve interviewed, like we’ve [inaudible [00:12:58] spoke a number of times now, Nick. When I meet them outside of the podcast and we’re at sales conference, which obviously don’t exist anymore, or I see them in an airport, whatever it is. I’ve always, it happens every time, I get told, “Wow, you’re way taller than I expected you to be,” because I’ve obviously sat down at this desk and there’s no context for my height. And I also get told, and it sounds like I’m trying to blow my own trumpet here a little bit, but this is what I get told, that I’m a lot more funny than I am on the podcast itself. So when you’re talking about cracking a joke on a Zoom call or a online meeting, I find it really difficult to crack the jokes and the banter in that little bit of back and forth that I do in person. I don’t know whether it’s because there’s that slight delay in the audio video being transmitted from you to I. I don’t know whether it’s a confidence thing. Maybe to go back to what you said earlier then as well, maybe I feel less relaxed on a Zoom call.

 

Will Barron:

I’ve done 700 of these interviews now, if not more, because I’ve been in other people’s shows as well. And I feel I’m relaxed, but it’s definitely different versus being in front of someone and you can gauge them a little bit easier. So just a number of phenomenons that you’re talking about there, Nick, I’ve felt firsthand.

 

Practical Strategies to Building and Increasing Organic Trust in a Virtual Meeting · [14:17]

 

Will Barron:

So you mentioned then I guess, mirroring people’s well, the words that they’re saying. Is there anything else that we can do to kind of build that level of trust that might come organically and naturally? We’re not trying to increase the level of trust, we’re just trying to get it back to where it would be in a face-to-face meeting.

 

“Listen more than you talk. And that’s good advice in person too, that I’m sure your listeners and viewers have heard many times, but it’s even more important on video conferencing.” – Nick Morgan · [14:37] 

 

Nick Morgan:

Yeah. There are two things you can do, which sound mutually contradictory, but they’re not the really. The first one is to listen more than you talk. And that’s good advice in person too, that I’m sure your listeners and viewers have heard many times, but it’s even more important on video conferencing.

 

“Go first, meaning that the beginnings of a conversation tend to set the tone and the expectations.” – Nick Morgan · [14:54] 

 

Nick Morgan:

And then the second one is to do what we call go first, meaning that the beginnings of a conversation tend to set the tone and the expectations. And if I start by telling you a heart-rending story of some trauma that I’ve suffered and thereby enlist your sympathy, and you realise what a wonderful, authentic courageous guy I am, then that will take our conversation in one direction. If on the other hand, I talk about my favourite football team, that will take the conversation at another level. And it means probably a missed opportunity because when you’re in person, salespeople for years have gotten away with that kind of polite level of chit-chat, because your unconscious minds are busy doing the hard work of building, creating trust, that you therefore don’t have to do in the chitchat. So you can talk about football or sports or the latest happening of one kind or another.

 

Nick Morgan:

In the online world, you can’t assume your unconscious minds are going to be doing that work. They’re not. And so you have to do the work yourself through the storytelling, through the disclosures that you give. So you have to be a little braver in the online relationship and go deeper first and you have to listen more and you have to do both of those things.

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. Okay, let’s move on to, something that I struggle with, I speak, and I know this because multiple people on this show and you probably do the same in a second Nick, have told me this, I speak way too fast and there’s [inaudible [00:16:21] vocal tics and things that I have, that if I was trained to speak on stage, you and other people, the same kind of league that you are in this, would knock right out with me. But I feel like I get away of a lot more in person than what I do on the podcast. And of course you’re talking through a microphone, it’s then being translated into ones and zeros, is then being transmitted for you and I across a vast ocean, and it’s coming out of speakers or headphones at the other end.

 

How to Improve Your Ability to Speak and Be Understood In a Virtual Meeting · [17:09] 

 

Will Barron:

And so there are multiple points of failure. And even if it was 99% seamless all the way through, it could be anything that of end that would [inaudible [00:16:57] things up. So there’s multiple elements to all of this that can make my not great kind of on-stage speaking voice just abysmal by the time it reaches your ears on a video meeting. So with that said, what’s the biggest bang for buck thing that we should work on to improve our intelligibility or our ability to speak and be understood when we are communicating over a Skype call, where people might be this doesn’t go well? This is all fine in person, I don’t know why it’s a problem now that we’re communicating via the internet.

 

Nick Morgan:

The easiest thing to do, this is quite a complicated subject. And again, I could geek out or nerd out very happily on this, but I’ll try to keep it simple. And I promise not to mention the Navajo Code Breakers of World War Two and the insight that led to, in terms of exactly the question you’re asking, I promise I won’t do that. Moving on, so now that I’ve got you wildly curious as to what that is, the simple thing you can do is to get very relaxed one evening with a couple of friends. If you’re allowed to see any friends or talk to them in person. Let’s say you’ve got a pod, I don’t know if that’s what you call it in the UK, but that’s what we call it here, where we have a pod of people that we’ve been hanging out with this whole time and we trust them.

 

Will Barron:

We’ve got bubbles, Nick. Same thing though I think.

 

“When we get on a video conference, because of this feeling of being watched the whole time and the sort of sense of being on stage, what happens is that creates a low level of adrenaline flow. And one of the things that’s very sensitive in humans to adrenaline is the voice. And it tends to push the voice up just a little bit higher.” – Nick Morgan · [19:10] 

 

Nick Morgan:

Bubbles, pods and bubbles. Good. All right, What is it they say that a, something about the common language separated, or two cultures separated by a common language or something like that. But so pods and bubbles, get very comfortable with your bubble and have a chat with them, and then record your own voice when you’re at your most relaxed, just having chit-chat with your mates. At that point, your voice is going to be at the right pitch, it’s going to be at the right level of relaxation, it’s going to have the right music to it. Now there’s of course, much more we can do with the voice and there are other problems that voices have and work that can be done. But that’s the simplest thing. When we get on a video conference, because of this feeling of being watched the whole time and the sort of sense of being on stage, what happens is that creates a low level of adrenaline flow. And one of the things that’s very sensitive to in humans to adrenaline is the voice. And it tends to push the voice up just a little bit higher. And so you find yourself talking at about this pitch instead of your more normal conversational one.

 

“The idea is not to unconsciously transmit that tension in your voice by allowing your pitch to rise slightly because, unconsciously, we humans are incredibly sensitive to tension in each other’s voices.” – Nick Morgan · [19:59] 

 

Nick Morgan:

But if you have a good 30 second recording of you speaking at your most conversational, relaxed way, then you can play that in your ear before you do the video conference. That should remind you what your voice sounds like and then you can replicate that more easily when you’re on the call. Because the idea is not to unconsciously transmit that tension in your voice by allowing your pitch to rise slightly. Now that’s just ground level basic speaking 101 on video conferencing. There’s lots more we could say, but that’s a good place to start, and it’s fairly easy for people to do. So I recommend that one highly because that’s something that most people aren’t consciously aware of. And yet unconsciously, we, humans are incredibly sensitive to tension in each other’s voices. So it’s an important one.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect, I love that, very practical. Everyone can do that this afternoon, or whenever they can see their bubble or pod and put that into practise. I want to get into perhaps stage two or three in a second, but something that I am becoming conscious of, as I chat with you, Nick, this is totally anecdotal, I don’t have data on this, but the people I’ve spoken to recently who like yourself, incredible speaker versus people like myself, average speakers, when I’ve been doing these podcasts recently, I’ve noticed a trend and you just kind of blew it up in my face there, of the better speakers all tend to be doing their interviews stood up versus I’m sat down clearly.

 

Why People with a Better Stage Presence Prefer Standing Up During Virtual Meetings/Interviews · [21:13] 

 

Will Barron:

And I found a lot of people that I, and again, it’s totally anecdotal, there’s no data on this. People I found are less good speakers and have great things to say, but they’re not, they don’t have that stage presence. They’re not perhaps trained in it, sit down for the podcast. Is that something that we should consider, whether it be from a body language perspective or a ability to speak clearly perspective, should we be thinking about standing up in our meetings?

 

“When I stand up, it’s easier for me to breathe than when sitting down. When you sit down, especially depending on what size stomach you have, you fold up the lungs there into your stomach a little bit. It makes it harder to breathe. When I stand up, I’ve got full access to all my breath and voice is created by breath.” – Nick Morgan · [21:40] 

 

Nick Morgan:

Absolutely. And here’s the one very simple reason, when I stand up it’s easier for me to breathe than when sitting down. When you sit down, especially depending on what size stomach you have, you fold up the lungs there into your stomach a little bit. It makes it harder to breathe. When I stand up, I’ve got full access to all my breath. Voice is created by breath and singers, for example, spend a lot of time training themselves to be able to sing for long periods of time, without obviously gasping for breath and sustaining the note it requires breath and that kind of thing. So the singers already know this, but for us average speakers then, we breathe just fine unconsciously enough to keep ourselves alive.

 

Will Barron:

That’s not a very good baseline, is it for improving our ability to speak.

 

“I encourage everybody to stand up if they can. Just because again, it’s a simple thing to do that will allow your voice to sound better, even on video conferencing.” – Nick Morgan · [23:35]

 

Nick Morgan:

Exactly. And thank goodness that we do that. I mean, otherwise we’d all die in our sleep, but fortunately we don’t, we breathe, but it’s harder to breathe sitting down than standing up and an all good vocal technique starts with breath. And so if you’re speaking with insufficient breath or you’re a little short of breath, or you’re not breathing very well, then that’s going to put an extra strain on your vocal chords. And the voice is going to sound flatter, less resonant, which is a term of art that we like to use in the speaking world. Resonance is good. You get less resonance if you’re sitting down, so long-winded answer, but I encourage everybody to stand up if they can. Just because again, it’s a simple thing to do, that will allow your voice to sound better, even on video conferencing.

 

What Salespeople Need to Do to Add More Energy, Clarity, and Make Their Voice More Interesting to Listen to in a Virtual Meeting · [23:45] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. It’s an experiment I’m going to actually do. I don’t know, we may have to rearrange the set because clearly my head’s going to get chopped off at some points on all of these video podcasts that we do. That’s something I’m going to experiment with and see if the audience notice a difference. So if that’s ground floor and perhaps the first set of steps is to stand up and get your posture right and breathe and focus on your breath as you’re speaking, what else should we be doing? Then you mentioned musicality. Is there anything else that we should be doing to even just add a little bit more energy to a call, so it becomes less mundane and people start to listen to us?

 

“One of the traps of the video conferences, again tending to sit down, is all I see of you is your head and shoulders. And I get a surprising amount of information about how much you care about what you’re saying from your whole body language.” – Nick Morgan · [24:13] 

 

Nick Morgan:

Yeah. One of the things for those who are not listening to this, but watching it, one of the things which I’m going to demonstrate right now, and which will therefore, I have very little effect because I’m talking about it. This is much better if it’s presented unconsciously. But one of the traps of the video conferences, again tending to sit down, is all I see of you is your head and shoulders. And I get a surprising amount of information about how much you care about what you’re saying from your whole body language. So I’ll see you lean forward.

 

Nick Morgan:

It’s that book that Cheryl Sandberg, what was her name, the Facebook VP, wrote about leaning in. Meaning take action, get involved, get confident and dominant in the room. When I lean in, then I’m much more present. I can be stronger. That kind of body language is just simply harder to do sitting down and harder to see. And so that’s that sort of 2.0, where are we now, 2.1, 2.3. So that’s something that’s really important to do. And I’ve completely lost track of your question now as I’m geeking out here. So ask me the question again and I’ll see if I can answer it.

 

Will Barron:

We’ve got standing up, we’ve got focusing on breathing. Because this is one I get wrong all the time, I constantly run out of breath. You mentioned leaning in, we can use our hands if we got our hands in the shot, add a little bit more colour to it. Is there anything else we can do in particular with our voice, perhaps that makes things just a little bit more interesting to listen to? As again, you mentioned the word musical earlier, I’m intrigued as to what you mean by that, Nick.

 

“But to bring your hands into it and wave them around, brings back some of the body language that’s missing. It does create more energy and animation if you can see me waving my hands around as I’m talking.” – Nick Morgan · [26:03] 

 

Nick Morgan:

Yeah. So that’s where I was going. And that’s what I lost track of was about the hands. I was saying we’re sitting down and you can only see the head and shoulders and leaning in isn’t very effective on a two dimensional call, although even that helps a little bit, but to bring your hands into it and wave them around, brings back some of the body language that’s missing. That was the point I was trying feebly to get to. So yeah, that’s an important part of it. And that’s what I was going to demonstrate. And as I say, it’s less effective if I’m talking about it as I do it just like any body language, the effect is supposed to be on the unconscious mind, but nonetheless, it does create more energy and animation if you can see me waving my hands around as I’m talking. So that is a crucial thing.

 

Nick Morgan:

What we’re really talking about here is a reduced palette. If you think of a painter and only allowing himself to use or herself to use three colours, rather than the whole rainbow of colours, when you limit it, then you have to use those few colours that you have more effectively and you have to provide more variety with them. And the same is true on a video conference, you’re limiting the palette here of things that you can do and so you have to be more conscious of them. And you mentioned the musicality and the voice. That’s one of them. So most of us naturally vary the speed and the tone and the music of our language, depending on whether we’re being funny or we’re trying to get more serious or we’re cracking a joke or whatever we’re doing.

 

“One of the classic problems that people have face-to-face is what we call the uptick or valley speak, and that’s the tendency to say everything as if it were a question, to let your voice go up at the end of every phrase.” – Nick Morgan · [27:44] 

 

Nick Morgan:

Online, on a video conference, you have to do that even more so, to the power of 10, you really have to work at it much, much harder. So you need to think consciously about slowing down and speeding up. You need to provide pauses in a way that you can get away with less in person, and you need to allow your voice to go up, to rise up and to come back down. One of the classic problems that people have face-to-face is what we call the uptick or valley speak from Southern California, the valley in Southern California, where theoretically it originally came from. And that’s the tendency to say everything as if it were a question, to let your voice go up at the end of every phrase.

 

“And so if I say everything as if it was a question, I’m kind of forcing you to agree constantly as we go along. Well, that’s irritating enough in person and ineffective enough in person, but online it becomes absolutely maddening.” – Nick Morgan · [28:19] 

 

Nick Morgan:

And that’s gotten very common in, just speaking for American corporations, in American corporations now, especially ones with a younger cohort, because there’s a great emphasis on collegiality. I want to get everybody to agree with me. And so if I say everything as if it was a question, I’m kind of forcing you to agree constantly as we go along. Well, that’s irritating enough in person and ineffective enough in person, but online it becomes absolutely maddening. So that’s something to watch out. So you want to add musicality in your voice, but you don’t want always to be asking questions or to sound like you’re always asking questions. Do allow your voice to go up, but then make sure you bring it down at the end of the phrase so that you sound like you know what you’re doing.

 

Nick Lists Down the Things People Need to Stop Doing to Improve Their Virtual Communication Skills · [28:58]

 

Will Barron:

So you’ve given us a few things here to add to our Zoom calls, but you’ve teed me up here nicely, nick, is there anything we should take away? Is there anything that we are doing perhaps in our Zoom calls that we think is what everyone else should be doing? Or there’s some weird social norm that hasn’t quite translated into communicating via video? Is there anything that we’re all probably doing, even unconsciously, that we should take away from the conversations?

 

Nick Morgan:

Oh, good question, Will I like that one, because so often you’re right, we think about adding things in. One of the issues that’s surprisingly hard to get around for people is the norm that’s been around forever, that when we have a meeting, it goes for an hour or half an hour and the attention span, the research on this is not completely clear yet, we don’t have enough of it, but the attention spans online seem to be shorter than they are in person. That would not be a surprise to discover. So let’s say, let’s assume as a working assumption that it’s true, they seem to be about seven to 10 minutes, the attention spans online. Now it’s very hard to schedule a meeting for seven to 10 minutes because people are just used to at minimum 30 minutes or at minimum an hour. And they feel like they haven’t done their work unless they go for the full hour.

 

“But one thing you can take away from Zoom calls, video conferencing is the heavily enforced norm that this meeting has to go for 30 minutes or an hour or it isn’t successful somehow. You should feel free to make it shorter and you should also look to vary what’s going on about every 10 minutes, just to keep the interest level.” – Nick Morgan · [30:15] 

 

Nick Morgan:

But one thing you can take away from Zoom calls, video conferencing is that assumption and the norm, the heavily enforced norm that this meeting has to go for 30 minutes or an hour or it isn’t successful somehow. You should feel free to make it shorter and you should also look to vary what’s going on about every 10 minutes, just to keep the interest level. Now there’s a caveat here that your audience should understand and that is that attention spans are not what most people think they are. So most people think of an attention span is, oh my God, I’ve exceeded your attention span. That means you’re on a rocket ship to Mars. I’m never going to see you again. You’re gone. And then that’s why we think about, oh I’ve lost their attention. Then I’ll never get it back.

 

“Attention spans are easy to lose, they are easy to exceed, but they’re also easy to get back. It doesn’t take much to re-engage people.” – Nick Morgan · [31:04] 

 

Nick Morgan:

Attention spans are easy to lose, they are easy to exceed, but they’re also easy to get back. It doesn’t take much to re-engage people. If they’re there on the call with you, they want to make a success of that call. Or if they’re there in person, let’s hope we are able to do that again one day, people want to make that meeting or that exchange a success.

 

“It’s not that difficult, but you do need to mix things up and you need to do that consciously in an online meeting. Allow for different modes and think of it in terms of chapters, 10 minute chapters, and make sure you’re doing something different for each chapter and allow for little breaks, but they don’t need to be long. As I say, it only takes 30 seconds, maybe even 20 seconds to get somebody’s attention back.” – Nick Morgan · [31:40] 

 

Nick Morgan: 

And so they’re in there with you trying, and they can renew their attention. It’s not that difficult, but you do need to mix things up and you need to do that consciously in an online meeting. Especially if you’re pitching sales or something like that, don’t go on for 45 minutes just droning on about the brilliance of your product. For example, allow for different modes and think of it in terms of chapters, 10 minute chapters, and make sure you’re doing something different for each chapter and allow for little breaks, but they don’t need to be long. As I say, it only takes 30 seconds, maybe even 20 seconds to get somebody’s attention back. You just have to give them just a little pass that say, okay, I can let go now, and then I’ll come back.

 

Will Barron:

I love this. So you used the word chapters and what was pinging my brain, as you’re saying that Nick was to think of it perhaps in acts as well of there’s a beginning, a middle, and end. And if you break them into seven minutes, you’ve almost got your 30 minute meeting there, but you’ve changed the dynamic. So you change it from me talking, to a presentation or whatever it is. It’s almost like a good way to structure a meeting or a presentation just to kind of have those mental notes.

 

Will Barron:

And the other thing that I thought was fascinating was if someone called and emailed me asking for a seven minute meeting, I’m probably just as interesting as to how the hell are you going to explain all this in seven minutes? I’m probably going to accept that just from a standpoint of it’s different, it’s differentiated, it’s interesting.

 

Will Barron:

So those are the two things I took away from that. And no one’s ever pitched me for a seven meeting minute, a seven… Maybe we need to work on the wording, so it’s easier to say. A seven minute meeting, no one’s ever pitched me anything like that before.

 

Nick Morgan:

Yeah. Good fun. So then the challenge down to you to say something significant in seven minutes, it’s not easy, but I think it can be done. And it’s a great way to think about your pitch. I like that. [crosstalk [00:33:26]

 

Nick Morgan:

Let’s say it started here and now on your podcast, Will the seven minute pitch. Let’s do it.

 

Nick of 2021’s Advise to Nick From Before The Pandemic · [33:41] 

 

Will Barron:

I think there’s a seven minute book series about sales and other stuff, I think. So, maybe` they got the alliteration there before us unfortunately, Nick. With that then, final thing and we’ll wrap up with this. I’ve asked you this question or a turn of phrase of this question, a number of times on the show, so we’re going to change it slightly. Nick, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, you’re younger self of 12 months ago, before the pandemic hit. Is there anything you would tell-

 

Nick Morgan:

Much younger.

 

Will Barron:

Is there anything you’d tell him then to help him having cope with all this change and turmoil and everything that’s affected us during this global pandemic?

 

Nick Morgan:

Yes. I would say that the hardest thing of all is to remain serene and focused in times of enormous change like this. And yet the game always goes to and success always follows people who can remain focused and ideally serene while all this is going on. And so always be thinking about the long term.

Parting Thoughts · [34:38]

Will Barron:

We’ll link to the books and all the good stuff of yours in the [inaudible [00:34:41] episode over at salesman.org. Nick, is there anything you want to show the audience, anything you want to leave us with?

 

Nick Morgan:

Well, one of the fascinating phenomenon of this pandemic for me personally, was a book that I wrote. I think we talked about this last time in 2018, Can You Hear Me? Which nobody wanted to buy in 2018, suddenly became relevant in 2020. So it’s a horrible reason for a pandemic. And I started it separately.

 

Will Barron:

[crosstalk [00:35:08] Very selfish reason.

 

Nick Morgan:

Yeah, exactly. I didn’t start it, the virus in a lab, just so that this could happen. But the chances are good that you will not have much more time because we’re hopefully getting out of this in six months or so, to book me to speak on the subject of virtual communication, but I would love to come and talk to your group, whatever it is about it, because it’s a subject I’m passionate about. And we can make the remaining, what we hope is the remaining few months of the pandemic, much easier for us all.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. With that, Nick, I want to thank you again for your insights on this and for joining us again on the Sales Man Podcast.

 

Nick Morgan:

Thanks so much, Will.

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