What makes someone a good Zoom talker?

BetterUp analyzed 1.6k+ Zoom conversations to find out how we interact over video and what we like in a conversation partner.

At this point, we’re all very familiar with video meetings and the concept of “Zoom fatigue.” But research suggests we may like video chatting — at least with intense strangers.

talking on Zoom

Online coaching platform BetterUp launched a behavioral research lab in 2018.

It’s since created a massive database of Zoom conversations, called CANDOR (Conversation: A Naturalistic Dataset of Online Recordings), to analyze how we interact over Zoom and what makes someone a good conversationalist, per Business Insider.

How they did it

US-based participants, ages 18-65, had 1.6k+ conversations with randomly paired strangers. They were instructed to chat about anything for ~30 minutes, then review their partner.

Conversations were recorded and analyzed for things like loudness, nonverbal gestures, and “semantic novelty” (in this case, introducing something new to the conversation).

So, who Zooms best?

The highest-rated conversationalists had a few things in common. They:

  • Spoke ~3% faster — that’s about six additional words per minute.
  • Varied their volume, possibly because they were adjusting to the room.
  • Nodded and shook their heads more often, signaling appropriate responses and attentiveness.
  • Mixed it up, but not too much. They knew how to stay on topic, but also introduced more subject changes.
  • Were more “intense,” exhibiting more emotion.

It may not be that surprising…

… that the most dynamic and engaged people scored highest, but this might be: Across all groups, people reported feeling happier after their conversations, especially those ages 50-69.

Conversations took place between January and November 2020, coinciding with pandemic lockdowns — a great time to virtually connect with a friendly stranger.

Bonus findings: Older speakers took longer speaking turns when paired with younger partners, and women were more vocally expressive with one another.

Topics: Zoom

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