Trust is the most important business and brand asset you manage, especially in relationships with customers, clients, employees, and stakeholders. That is why it is important to earn trust on Zoom. Every interaction—in the physical and virtual worlds– is an opportunity to build relationships and nurture trust.
You can’t buy trust in the supermarket.— His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Trust is built step by step over time. It starts with a first impression and is reinforced with every conversation. During times of uncertainty when we feel vulnerable, trust goes a long way to helping people feel safe and supported. That includes how you earn trust on Zoom.
How you show up and behave on a Zoom call is a first step towards forging the bonds you need to succeed in nearly every aspect of your work and personal life. Even with the space limitations of the “Brady Bunch” rectangle, there are ways to lay the foundations of trust with eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and affirming statements.
Here are 5 ways you can earn trust on Zoom:
No one can lie, no one can hide anything, when he looks directly into someone’s eyes.— Paulo Coelho
1. Use the right gazes to establish credibility.
The eyes are the most honest part of the face. It is only when you see “eye to eye” with another person that a real basis for communication can be established.
Dorothy Sarnoff, one of first women public speaking coaches to reach international fame, zoned in on the eyes as the most important ingredient of human communication. “You have to maintain eye contact. Ninety percent is eye to eye,” she said. That was in the 1970’s. It is even more relevant today when Zoom is our conference room, showroom, and sales office.
The study of eye contact is deep and vast. Here are two eye techniques to help earn trust on Zoom:
The Power gaze
Experiments into gazing reveal that we tend to look at the triangular area on the other person’s face between the eyes and the mouth 90 percent of the time during social contact. However, to establish more intimate and trust-worthy contact, look at the other person’s “third eye.” That is at the center of the forehead just above the eyebrows. Remember these eye signals are mere gazes and not stares, which can betray your intentions.
Never try to look into both eyes at the same time. Switch your gaze from one eye to the other. That signals warmth and sincerity.— Dorothy Sarnoff
The Shifting gaze
Remember that your gestures and movements are in constant view during a video call. Staring into the lens can make you look wooden, nervous, and unengaged. Try switching your gaze gently from side to side to simulate movement from one eye to the other eye of the person to whom you are speaking. Small actions like these go a long way towards making virtual feel more human.
2. Nod and tilt your head to show interest.
Head nodding is an excellent tool for creating rapport, cooperation, and trust. In most cultures, the head nod signifies agreement (“Yes, I agree”) or acknowledgement (“Yes, I hear you”). Research shows that slow nods at regular intervals indicate that the listener is engaged in what the speaker is saying.
People tilt their heads to one side when they become interested in something. In body language studies, it is considered submissive, compliant, and unthreatening behavior. Use the head tilt to signal attentive listening and acknowledgement, and the speaker will begin to feel valued and more trusting toward you.
3. Place hand on chin to display attentive behavior.
Evaluation gestures, such as chin stroking or resting your chin on your hand, can be used to offer supportive encouragement and interest in what the speaker is saying. But holding that position for too long can turn to a sign of boredom, particularly when the head starts to tilt forward. Use the hand to chin gesture to show your attending behavior and genuine interest in engaging with the other person.
4. Use affirming statements to show you care.
Taking a cue from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), use phrases that affirm what the other person is saying and feeling. These signal your empathy and understanding. Use phrases such as “I see what you mean,” “That is clear,“ ”I hear you,” and “I’m with you” to show that you are “tuned in” to what the other person is trying to communicate.
5. Show up like a professional.
Demonstrate upon first impression that you are someone who inspires confidence. You are someone with whom others will want to do business. That means showing up to a video meeting on time. Dressing professionally. Ensuring your video image is curated–well framed, properly lit, and commensurate with your values and reputation. And that your voice can be heard clearly.
Remember that the fundamentals of establishing trust in the virtual world will only serve to strengthen your relationships in the physical world. This is a good time to invest in refining your online presence and prepare for the new world of remote work.
Mini Zoom Camp
You can learn more about how to earn trust on Zoom by taking my Mini Zoom Camp. In 90 minutes of live group training, you will learn more tips like these and valuable insights you can put to work right away. You will discover how to create a living set with what you already have on hand. How to enhance your presence and authority. How to manage and moderate an online meeting like a pro. And much more. Register here for the next session.