New Study Backs The Power of Nonverbals on Video

More research is being done everyday to support greater efficiency in our new world of work.

As we know intuitively, communication is at the core of any successful business. Whether this communication is happening in person, over video, or a combination of both, a clear understanding of how to communicate effectively is essential.

Business Insider released a new study led by BetterUp’s Lead Scientist, Andrew Reece. This study goes into a deep dive of the platform’s 1:1 coaching conversations, all happening over video, studying the impact of different nonverbals (both body language and vocal) during video calls. 

Our work at Virtual Sapiens is built on the shoulders of behavioral science, anthropology and the increasing amount of new research that focuses specifically on interactions over video. 

One finding from this study jumped out at me immediately, and it revolves around ‘active listening’. This includes nods, head shakes, head tilts. It includes various changes in emotion and expressivity as well as certain vocal bursts (mhmm, ahs, ohs etc.). Our focus on the back and forth elements of conversation set us apart from other AI coaches which bias towards the behaviors of the user as active speaker only.

On video, vocal bursts can be hard to pick up on since the audio typically focuses on the primary speaker. Our body language on the other hand, is on display consistently. This means it is a powerful way to build trust, rapport, and likeability on video: 

“Better-rated conversationalists nodded “yes” 4% more often and shook their heads “no” 3% more often. They were not “merely cheerful listeners who nod supportively,” the researchers note, but were instead making “judicious use of nonverbal negations.” Translation: An honest and well-timed no will score you more points than an insincere yes. Good conversationalists are those who appear more engaged in what their partners are saying.

This study also found no evidence to support the assumptions that people dislike zoom itself. We also believe this to be true. When people understand the skills required to be an engaging conversationalist and speaker on video, this channel can be energizing and help people feel more connected. 

This stands true when you think about past video calls that were energizing, that left you feeling excited and more connected. If video calls were de facto as exhausting as some people assume, we certainly wouldn’t continue to invest in this space and certainly more of us would be back in the office, and traveling around to meet everyone in person. 

In conclusion, our work at Virtual Sapiens continues to become more and more relevant as we move away from the trauma of the Pandemic, and further into a renewed world of work. One wherein we are fluent as communicators both in person, and over video. Leveraging each channel for what they are strongest at – with the overall goal of building a more connected and efficient world. 

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