Digital Presence



November 27, 2020

zoom-meetingsTime will tell how deeply COVID-19 has permanently changed our personal and professional lives, but education, business, medicine and sports are just a few institutions already showing signs of permanent transformation.

For many of us, the suddenly ubiquitous Zoom call is one of those changes.  At the end of 2019, Zoom averaged 10 million users a month. Then came COVID.  In April, 300 million people were in Zoom meetings every day. The Zoom app was downloaded almost 95 million times in the second quarter of 2020.

Though invaluable, Zoom and other conferencing services are far from perfect.  People miss the human connection that comes with face to face meetings. Virtual get togethers make us realize how much we rely on eye contact, gestures, exchanged looks and other nonverbals, and how online conferences just can’t catch the nuances.  It’s tough to kick someone under the table on a Zoom call.

We need to bring the full suite of human techniques to the online world, says Charles Matheus, founder of RocketFeather Creative in Prescott. “Since we rely on subconscious actions to feel connected and to build understanding, we need to be more intentional about meeting and presenting online,” he says.

The sterility people sense in online meetings is real, since researchers say as much as 80 percent of communication is subconscious and nonverbal.  In an upcoming free webinar on December 2, Matheus will talk about making adjustments that bring a human touch to Zoom.  “If we make Zoom meetings more like in-person communications, everyone feels more comfortable, more attentive, and  more disposed to continue the business relationship,” he says.  Think of how important that can be in sales, education or during virtual medical appointments.

Matheus cites a simple example that changes the dynamic: adjust the camera angle from the monotonous head and shoulders shot to include more of your body, especially your hands.   “Eliminating our hands from the conversation leaves people feeling subtly uncomfortable because they sense they are missing something,” he says.  Further, since hand movements are almost entirely subconscious, letting your hands do much of the talking effortlessly reinforces what you are saying.

Virtual speakers also must remember that our online attention span is shorter than it is in person, Matheus points out.  Don’t believe it? Think of how quickly you lose patience with online videos vs. what you watch on TV.  In the webinar, he will offer tips on structuring agendas and presentations to help everyone maintain focus.

As Yogi Berra famously said, predictions are hard, especially about the future. But Matheus is sure of one thing. “Remote communications will play an expanded role,” he says. “It’s just too convenient and inexpensive to give up.”  He says improving online meeting skills leads to better relationships with our co-workers, more customer loyalty, and a more connected and happier life.

Facilitated by the Yavapai College Small Business Development Center and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, the December 2 webinar is at 8 a.m. and is free of charge. You can register at

And yes, it is a Zoom conference!

   –Michelle Conway,
Interim President/CEO and Director of Marketing