After a long day of work sitting in front of my screen, I often stand up to make dinner and think, “Oh, my shoulders have been up to my ears ALL DAY!”
With driving deadlines, back-to-back virtual meetings, and—let’s face it—the non-stop nature of our world at this moment, it’s easy to go an entire day without moving your body. In fact, it can be easy for us to forget about our physicality altogether. But our bodies are meant to move!
As a dancer and choreographer in my off-work-hours, I’m trained to be keenly aware of my body and what it needs/tells me. This awareness allows me to stay grounded and integrated, improving my mental state and thus improving work performance.
I enjoy sharing this part of myself with my colleagues and empowering others to make this connection within themselves, too. During last year’s annual Duarte team gathering (which we call Shop Day), I led Duartians in a dance class where they got to experience the joy of movement and find their inner groove. It was a day I’ll never forget!
Whether or not we’re communicating virtually, movement is an essential part of effective communication. A good communicator knows that their delivery is not only about their words, but about how they take up space. In our Captivate workshop, we teach you to engage your audience by applying dynamic body language, and encourage you to find your power physically.
You know that sitting is bad for your health—physically and mentally—but forgetting about the importance of movement can also have a negative impact on your audience. Engaging audiences in virtual settings is increasingly challenging. As you compete with your listener’s inboxes, internal chats, and at-home distractions, don’t underestimate the value of listening to your body, and incorporating movement into all levels of your communication for greater impact.
Read on for four ways you can incorporate meaningful movement into your day-to-day communication.
1. Plan Moving Meetings
Anytime you have an internal check-in, or 1:1 with your teammate, consider a moving meeting. While some meetings require reviewing a document or file on-screen, others are simply a dialogue. Try spending that time away from the screen and schedule a standing or walking meeting.
There are many cases for the benefits of the walking meeting, including increased creativity, productivity, and employee engagement.
My Diversity and Inclusion task force co-leader and I have instituted a (safe, distanced) walk around our respective neighborhoods as we catch up over the phone weekly. For me, on top of getting a nice dose of fresh air and vitamin D, walking meetings help me think more clearly and come up with new ideas when we chat. I’m generally much more open throughout the course of our conversation—and that feeling carries into the rest of my day.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your moving meetings. I have a Duartian friend who is known to take internal meetings while riding her stationary bike.
2. Stand While You Present
It might feel more convenient to stay seated at your home-office, but there is power and strength in standing as you speak.
Our advice? Create a virtual setup that makes transitioning to your feet easy and effortless. There are so many benefits to allowing yourself the space to move as you speak. But one thing’s for sure, a comfortable speaker takes up space.
When you’re comfortable and confident, you have more of a tendency to “get big” and take up space. But when you’re uncomfortable, you have more of a tendency to “get small” and confined.
If your setup isn’t designed for standing, consider taking the moments before a big meeting or presentation to stand and stretch or do a quick power pose.
3. Celebrate Through Small Movements
Movement undeniably adds oomph to your communication, but it can also add even more meaning to celebrations and ceremonies. Think back to what it felt like to be in a room full of people applauding—the roaring sound of collective appreciation and respect for the speakers or performers is infectious.
Integrating movement into your daily work-life doesn’t have to be big, time consuming, or overly-planned. In fact, even the smallest movement moments hold great weight and meaning.
In our monthly all-hands meetings at Duarte, we’ve adopted the ASL sign for applause to honor one another. This small movement of celebration helps to foster our sense of togetherness, no matter how far away we might be.
How can you engage through small movements of celebration to foster a culture of belonging?
4. Invite Others to Move With You
Our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has made a habit of starting our meetings with “sixty seconds of self-care.” For us, this minute is intentionally movement-based—a leader takes the group through collective head or shoulder rolls and breathing exercises—to help bring our attention away from the screen and back to our body.
“This 60-seconds gives us that little extra push when we’re feeling achy, tired, or drained.” – Julie Leong, D&I Task Force Member
“Sixty seconds of self care” for your team could also look like a quick shake-out before diving into the business of the meeting. Shaking the hands or shoulders to the tune of a catchy song (cameras can stay on or off, depending on your group’s comfort level), or even a guided group inhale/exhale. Check out the video below for an example of what a shake-out could look like.
As a communicator, you’ve now engaged everyone in the room because you’re asking them to physically do something on the other side of the screen, to participate together with you. You’ve disrupted passiveness and created active, kinesthetic participation. We all need a little lightness, joy, and reminder to connect with our body right now, even if it’s only for a minute.
Movement, when coupled with good communication, can bring us together, improve our health, create a sense of belonging, and makes us feel good inside and out. And when we feel good, we become comfortable, dynamic, and empathetic—the keys to creating a meaningful connection when communicating.
Illustrated by Alexis Macias