Even though we can’t be physically together during the pandemic, is it possible to communicate more effectively through the gridlike haze of video chats and virtual meetings? We talked to body language and presence expert Rachel Cossar about the value of virtual presence and how it dramatically improves every conversation.

Most of us know the basics of setting up the webcam, looking presentable, and using video-chat software. But what can we do to connect more authentically? Cossar explains that there’s more to virtual communication than just talking and seeing each other’s faces. Virtual presence is about bringing intention, focus, and your whole self to the conversation.

Simple ways you can improve your virtual presence:
1. Turn off your selfie cam during video calls to eliminate the biggest distraction.
2. Make sure your camera is at eye level and you’re sitting 30”-36” from the lens for the most natural effect.
3. Practice physical anchoring exercises (grounding, breathing, and stretching) before a meeting to reset and refresh your mind and body.