Have you ever heard of the 7% rule?

authorKaren Teasdale dateApril 09, 2020

Quite possibly, but just in case you haven’t, the 7% rule relates to how we communicate with each other. Back in the 1960’s, Professor Albert Mehrabian published a paper which examined the importance of non-verbal communication which concluded that 7% of communication is verbal, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55%. Whilst these figures are sometimes questioned due to the nature of the original study, most people can agree that around 70% of communication is non-verbal.

Although the technology we are using today for communication was just a pipe dream in the 1960’s, some of Mehrabian’s findings still hold true today. With social distancing now the norm and people working remotely from home, you need to be even more aware of non-verbal communication especially when most people these days will only be seeing you from the chest up! So to help you, here are our tips for hosting a productive video call while being mindful of non-verbal communication.


Turn off those slack notifications!

You may have heard the saying ‘if you are in the room, be in the room’ and the same is true virtually. It looks rather rude if your eyes are drawn to the side of the screen and away from the speaker/presenter and can easily be misread as disinterest or boredom on your behalf. And unless you are expecting a very important call the same applies to picking up the phone.

Watch the room for non-verbal cues that people wish to contribute.

Much as you would in a face to face meeting, it’s important to be aware of indicators that people have something they wish to add. I’m not necessarily talking about the classroom favourite of raising hands, but be on the lookout for people leaning towards the screen, opening their mouth as if to say something, or actively nodding or shaking their head. Head movement can be a tricky one to gauge due cultural differences (when yes means no and no means yes) but nonetheless it will be an indication of engagement.

Think about your tone of voice.

You could say that this is verbal communication, but in actual fact, verbal communication relates only to the words you use - not the way you say them. The misuse of tone can quite often happen on conference calls as people will often raise their voice to gain attention, which can come across as confrontational and readily change the atmosphere of the meeting.

Dress to impress.

First impressions count, especially if you are ‘meeting’ someone for the first time. Also, consider how you can replace the handshake with a virtual greeting - the simplest way and warmest way to open any meeting is simply to smile.

As the Nexa team has been working remotely for the last couple of weeks, here are some other tips that can help you hold a successful virtual meeting.

Turn on the video but mute the sound!

Unless you are actively speaking help to keep the meeting running smoothly by eliminating unwanted background noise. On that point...

Make sure pets and young children are out of the way.

Having a cat trash the table lamp whilst you are on a video call may be amusing but it’s also rather distracting - trust me I know this from personal experience! As for young children,  if you haven't already seen it, Professor Robert Kelly's BBC interview is a great example of this and will help brighten your day!

Children interrupt BBC News interview - BBC News

Finally, be aware of your background.

Some services such as Zoom offer the option to change the background of your call, while this can be fun and act as an ice breaker - having a T-rex roaming around your home office whilst you are presenting the upcoming quarter’s strategy may not be the most appropriate.

So there you have it, some tips on how to make remote communications successful. We would love to hear from you if you have any other hints or tips to share.