‘It’s all in the eyes’ when pitching potential clients
Virtual meetings mastered: The Core Skills
Our brains are hardwired to connect with other people; we are social beings. We rely heavily on our ability to gather as much sensory information as possible about whether we want to pursue a connection, a conversation or relationship. It takes seconds to gather this information and use it to decide whether we want to connect or not. It goes without saying that the situations that give us the best opportunity to collect the most amount of information are face-to-face connections, where we can use all our senses – touch, smell, sound, sight. This is why we instinctively prefer connecting in-person. Yet many of us now find ourselves in a world where operating without the presence of others is the norm, and all of us are feeling that big, emotional void. While virtual mediums are in some ways an efficient business tool, they will never be able to replace the missing social cues we rely so heavily on.
In the absence of face-to-face intuition, what can we do to make our meetings more intimate, more empathic, and as close to the real thing when talking to a camera? There are three core areas advisers can focus on to maximise opportunity in a virtual environment and create new or deeper bonds with clients.
It’s all in the eyes
The most obvious but most important challenge to master on video is making eye contact. The easiest way to show you’re interested and truly engrossed in what your client is saying is to look them in the eye. Virtually, this is not so easy. To make eye contact on a video call, look directly at your camera whether it be on your phone or laptop, rather than looking at the other person or people’s faces on your screen. This will provide the connection your clients are searching for, and the most important detail needed to create a sense of familiarity. Turning off self-view will help you avoid distraction, and to assist with your continued focus on looking directly into the lens, placing a small, brightly coloured sticker next to the camera will act as a constant reminder of where to look.
Gesture with purpose
According to body language experts, hand gestures are a powerful and required aspect of communication both from the speaker and the listeners perspective. Gesturing while talking increases a person’s ability to think, form clearer thoughts and speak more succinctly, which are all important if you want to be perceived as knowledgeable and trustworthy.
Along with natural hand gestures, getting your body involved on video will ensure the message your body language is sending aligns with the message that you want to convey. Try standing up to present; you will automatically appear more confident and present more naturally. Sitting not only squashes our diaphragm limiting breath capacity, but it also promotes hiding and slouching behind a desk, giving you a lazy resting place for your hands which should be animated.
Grab their attention and keep it
Attention spans are significantly shorter in a virtual setting because of all the distractions around us – technology, family, the surrounding environment. The key to combating distraction is planning the content of the meeting ahead. You can’t lean on the humanised aspect of the meeting initially, so will need to use tailored content that is going to capture your client’s immediate attention and appeal to their priorities. Structure your content so that it is meaningful to them personally and be sure to open with an agenda, ensuring they stay engaged throughout the entire meeting.
Another way to retain engagement is to switch things up; consistently provide variety in the meeting by using well-thought-out and captivating questions, prompting your client to pause thoughtfully to provide a detailed answer. You could also use props, something as simple as showing them the hardcopy paperwork you will send, or a book that you are reading that they may be interested in. Another idea is to include flamboyant sections in your presentation rather than small black text and uninteresting, overly detailed graphs.
Bringing it all together
We can all achieve authentic human connection virtually through being conscious of the challenges we face, the ways we can improve and of course, frequent practice. Taking just one point from each of the above sections will help you elevate your virtual meetings with clients. By simply using and mastering ‘eye/camera’ contact, ensuring your body and hand gestures are natural and noticeable on screen and actively keeping the clients’ attention throughout the entire meeting. Your clients will feel closer to you and provide you more information about themselves in a relaxed and engaged way, thereby establishing a greater connection between you and your client.
Invesco Global Consulting is a unique resource that exists to help advisers in the three areas all advisers consistently focus on – winning new business, retaining existing clients and growing their wallet and market share. We focus solely on the importance of the client relationship, methodically researching the language of our industry and the emotions associated with it to create actionable and implementable practice management and business strategy programs, assisting advisers across Australia.