The art of communication continues to evolve with personal appearance becoming ever more crucial on video calls, as participants compete to be seen and heard clearly.
That’s the view of Holli Hulett, Co-founder of global conferencing manufacturer Boom Collaboration, who says body language and eye contact can help build an instant bond in an increasingly virtual world.
She says the Covid pandemic triggered a huge ‘Zoom boom’ with more than a 40% rise in the popularity of minimal invasive procedures such as Botox and lip fillers, in some areas of the world – as millions more people began embracing video calls for work and socialising.
“People are definitely becoming more self-conscious and aware of how they appear.
Other than looking in a mirror, many hadn’t really paid too much attention to themselves and certainly not on camera before,” she highlighted.
“We’ve read widespread media reports how interest in neck and face work has leapt dramatically in recent years, which reflects what we’re seeing too. In areas of the UK and Europe there’s been a reported 30% rise in bookings year-on-year, compared to the US which has seen a 41% increase in treatments, with 5.5m procedures conducted in one year alone. The industry is estimated to be worth $4.4 billion with no sign of slowing down.”
Maintaining face-to face eye contact is crucial for a rewarding and life-like call experience, Hulett says. “Body language is part of the overall call chemistry, with great hardware vs not so great hardware a vital component of overall success. Building a bond and rapport happens in many different ways. Being relaxed, happy and friendly goes a long way.
“So much human interaction happens through body language and facial expressions. A smile can light up a room and make someone happy without any words. Emotion is powerful. A meeting is an encounter between people, where we constantly read each other. First impressions count.
“It’s also important to be flexible as well as natural and adaptable to different scenarios whether that’s teaching, pitching or selling. Being able to adapt is very important on a video call. Some miss that when trying to create inclusivity and equality. This is particularly hard with a large group when everyone is split up into little square boxes on a screen.”
Boom Collaboration’s own independent research based on discussions with channel partners and backed by various industry studies, shows:
- Around half of people worry about how they look on video
- Nearly 60% feel more self-aware.
- Almost everyone multitasks during meetings
- Around 40% experience hardware or software issues such as picture and audio performance
Hulett began the business with co-founder Fredrik Hörnkvist in 2020, with Boom now embarking on a global expansion drive including the UK and Europe.
She advises: “To overcome some of the challenges we always suggest putting the camera at eye level on the same wall as the main display so that it’s natural and easy to engage directly with people.
“We feel something like a 360 degree camera is actually counter intuitive to the way we communicate. Also because more people are using video calls now they want to look their best as they can physically see themselves in a different way on screen.
“For me, if I’m conducting a big webinar for example, when I’m prepping my content I’m also prepping my appearance. I do pay special attention and take more time.”
She added: “Quality equipment does make a significant difference. Quality really matters. It’s one of the many reasons we decided to produce a 4K PTZ camera early on. We believe this is where a lot of the platforms such as Teams will go next. In the future video calls will be conducted in 4K not HD. Raising the bar and raising the game in terms of quality will lead to a greater customer experience.”
Hulett notes how global economies still face many challenges with the most recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showing world growth slowing to 2.9% in 2023, down from 3.4% last year.
“Through these interesting, challenging and evolving times, from lockdowns to hybrid working, conferencing has been at the fulcrum of dramatic changes in daily and working life; how people interact and communicate, almost from anywhere. Choosing the right equipment is crucial. That could be plug-and-play or more powerful full room integrated systems.
“To survive an unstable economic climate, business leaders are looking to technology solutions that cut costs, amplify productivity, and accelerate ROI. Automation tools are widely considered ‘recession-proof’ because they reduce operating costs, increase efficiencies, and build the strong digital foundation organisations need to weather any storm.”
The quality of audio and video plus user friendly technology all have to combine to create the ultimate life-like video call experience, according to Hulett who stated: “It doesn’t happen by chance.”
She concluded: “A video call has become part of daily working life for many people. It’s probably one of the biggest lasting legacies of the pandemic. There’s no going back. Jumping on a video call is now part of working culture. However it doesn’t matter how good the technology is. If it’s not being used on a regular basis in the right way then the whole investment and experience is undermined. It has to be reliable, easy to operate and effective.
“Being smart and professional is hugely important. Equally people need to be seen and heard clearly too.”