Recently, I worked with a CEO who told me that she dreads giving virtual presentations. “I used to delight in getting up in front of an audience,” she described.
What is it about virtual presenting that can feel so unnerving? Surprisingly, one answer to this concern can be discovered right outside our windows by listening to how birds interact. Birds call out to each other mainly for survival — to signify risk and to bring in a mate. Envision how scary it must be for a bird to call out and receive no action? This is how we typically feel when we provide on Zoom– like the bird who calls out and hears only silence.
Pre-Covid, when we provided personally, we might count on the audience response to verify that our message was being gotten. In virtual discussions, however, we lack audience feedback. We no longer see body movement. We frequently do not see individuals nodding their heads (or nodding off if they are bored) and it is much harder to make eye contact. As a result, we seem like nobody is listening. This makes us even more nervous about speaking. And even worse, due to the fact that we feel as if nobody is listening, we speak as if nobody is listening. We sound less connected to the audience. We speak in more of a monotone. We ramble and have problem completing an idea. This only makes the issue even worse– it both strengthens our stress and anxiety and makes for a poor discussion. The more detached we sound, the harder it is