Technology is a wonderful thing. Years ago, it gave us the telephone, enabling us to talk with each other from many miles away, sharing stories, pitching ideas and expressing emotions using only our voices.
Now, in the era of FaceTime, Skype, and digital broadcast technology, we can literally see each other across these same distances, watching kids grow up, visiting with old friends, and carrying on business.
But in most cases, you only get to see that person’s head and face, or if you’re lucky, their upper torso as well. Technology ushered in the era of the “talking head.” It’s a nice communications tool, but we encourage our clients to use it as a presentation tool as well.
TV was the first to use this new capability, splitting the screen between two people in different cities, and watching them carry on a real-time conversation. Today, you can’t watch a news program without seeing two, three, four or even five of these people—from the shoulders up—discussing, questioning, and even arguing, especially on cable news.
So we now have this tool to present ideas or proposals from miles away. Anyone with access to this technology can BE a talking head. The problem is, most talking heads we see communicate very poorly, not recognizing that every face-to-face encounter—even a digital one—is an opportunity to make a powerful impression.
It reminds us of the old cartoon “Clutch Cargo” from back when animation was in its infancy. Clutch and his pals, Spinner and Paddlefoot, were motionless, but human mouths were inserted and you could see the lips, teeth and tongue move, but nothing else. (We used to watch it on the Ray Rayner Show!)
Many talking heads we see in person and on TV look like Clutch Cargo. They only thing that moves is their lips. No expressions, movements, gestures, or any kind of connection at all. It’s ineffective and it wastes a great opportunity.
To truly connect, talking heads need to do much more than talk. If you do it right, you can be so much more effective than you can over the phone. But you need to PRESENT—using natural gestures, facial expression, vocal variety, eye contact, and energy. Our fundamentals of public speaking absolutely apply, even from the shoulders up.
And believe us—gestures are powerful, even if they aren’t visible, because they raise your energy level, helping you look more animated, more interested, and more engaged. Just be careful not to wave them in front of your face when making an important point.
So next time you find yourself in a meeting via FaceTime or Skype, don’t be like Clutch—bring your energy, and use the top portion of your body convey your passion and your expertise.