Remote teaching made video presentations one of the main components of school classrooms. Body language has always been a substantial part of classroom teaching and interpersonal communication. Today, this language is translated for us by Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, and others. How can you optimize your video conferencing skills in the new age of digital visual communication?

Pre-Covid discussions about body language made it clear that there is something to learn for all of us about non-verbal communications. Even today, some of the basic tips apply and we need to avoid:

  • Bad posture or slouching
  • Fidgeting
  • Holding a tense expression on your face
  • Being too casual
  • Looking down or not making eye contact
  • Standing too close to people – oh, wait, this one can be put on hold!

A new set of recommendations emerges for body language in video presentations. Andy Cheng blogged for RingCentral about “7 Body Language Tips for Your Next Video Meeting“. They include:

  1. Wear clothes you would wear to an in-person meeting
  2. Sit back from the camera so colleagues can see your gestures
  3. Make eye contact by looking into the camera
  4. Show engagement by refraining from looking down
  5. Sit straight to project energy
  6. Calm your nerves by avoiding face-touching
  7. Use hand gestures to show warmth and agreement

There is another optimization you can adopt in your video session: Snap Camera – Meeting Gestures! This is a free software solution to spicing up your delivery and catching attention of students.

You can indicate with your hands when a question is asked, or you can pop a reassuring response “Yes” or “No” to something a student is saying. The basic signs are: Hello, Yes, No, Ha Ha – smile, “I’ll be right back” – if you leave, etc. This software will work with Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, and other video conferencing systems.

To get started in Blackboard Collaborate:

  1. Download the Snap Camera software and install on Mac or PC
  2. Select the Meeting Gestures filter
  3. Select the Snap Camera source instead of your default laptop camera
  4. Mirror display to make sure words are not spelled backwards

In Blackboard Collaborate make sure to select the Snap Camera after you install. This may need to be done each time you connect to the session. As always, use Chrome or Brave browser if you can.

In Zoom you can select the camera with effects like this:

Let’s keep the fun rolling and improve on classroom video student engagement!