Why authenticity in the virtual space is important?

Jul 2, 2020 | #virtualclassroom, #virtualevents, #virtualtraining

🚀 Become a #virtualspacehero 

Key takeaways from a #virtualspacehero LinkedIn LIVE

23.06.2020 | 17:00 CET

Authenticity in the virtual space

Virtual Discussion on  #virtualpresence #authenticity
with Bogdan Manta | Founder of The Essential Workshops &
Barbara Covarrubias Venegas #virtualspacehero (Spain/Austria)

Recently many offline activities moved into the virtual space. Questions about authenticity, who you are offline, your overall online presence, and your perceived live online identity were addressed during our last #LinkedIn life  #virtualidentity.

🎥 💻 If you want to watch the LinkedIn LIVE recording, here you go 

Are you the same person online and offline? What is your identity?

„Being authentic means that your actions and words are coherent, and the way you present yourself is coherent with what you present, with your beliefs and your values“. (Barbara Covarrubias Venegas)
We can distinguish between three dimensions of identity:
💡Online: online presence, behavior and your social media identity
💡LIVE Online: when you go live online. One good example is this LinkedIn live.
💡Offline: What is your real personality? What are your values and beliefs?

„The moment you go online in a live setting, I like to compare it with a show production because you have lights, camera, content, sound, all of that and very often we are not aware.“ (Bogdan Manta)

Behavioral Profiling: What is the biggest challenge when we think about authenticity in the virtual space?
Behavioral Profiling is about triangulating who you are offline, your overall online presence, and your perceived live online identity. Because if you are not the same person online and offline, people will subconsciously feel it, and they will choose not to work with you.

Do I have to change myself when I go online? The answer is NO.
Even though, people sometimes evaluate online presence negatively, because filters distort the real image. You don’t have to photoshop every photo on your social media accounts either. You should make sure that you are the same person both online and offline!

Bogdan provided the example of people who „pretend to be someone“ in a professional environment. But, that is not who they are offline, they just portray some other identity on social media. We should understand that LinkedIn and Facebook, for instance, are only your personal brand and image, but not your personality and character. Your personality is shown when you go to any online platform, such as Amazon, for example, and write a negative comment or complaint about a product. Comments and discussions are a very good way to find out who the person actually is.

Authenticity: Language, Humour & Storytelling

When we talk about being authentic, of course two factors very often play an important role: the language we are using, meaning whether it is our mother tongue or not and the use of humour on the other hand if we consider going LIVE online a bit as sort of a show production.

Are We Different People in Different Languages? What role does language play when we are LIVE online?

“I also think that the use of language can determine my presence in a way. I do feel that the way I express myself in running training in FR or in EN is not making me 100% the same. Isn’t it for you?” (Ljiljana Simic/EU Institutional anthropologist)

Linguists have been paying special attention to it since the 1940’s, when a linguist named Benjamin Lee Whorf studied Hopi, a Native American language spoken in northeastern Arizona. Based on his studies, Whorf claimed that speakers of Hopi and speakers of English see the world differently because of differences in their language. What we have learned is that the answer to this question is complicated. To some extent, it’s a chicken-and-egg question: Are you unable to think about things you don’t have words for, or do you lack words for them because you don’t think about them? Part of the problem is that there is more involved than just language and thought; there is also culture. Your culture—the traditions, lifestyle, habits, and so on that you pick up from the people you live and interact with—shapes the way you think, and also shapes the way you talk. (Birner “Does the language I speak influence the way I think?”)

„Sometimes I feel more comfortable when teaching in English or Spanish than teaching in German. Even though German is my mother tongue“. (Barbara Covarrubias Venegas)

Hence, the language we speak impacts our authenticity. However, we don’t capture all information through the verbal communication but also need to consider non-verbal communication, which is more difficult in a LIVE online setting.

Besides, the use of humour is a common component in social interaction – also in a LIVE online setting, where it can serve different purposes. A common distinction is that between using humour with the intention to laugh with others versus the intention to laugh at others. The ways in which humour can be used are related to the manifold interpersonal functions humour can serve, some of which are positive, and some negative. Shared humour (laughing with somebody else) is an important social bonding mechanism, it aids the formation, enhancement, and maintenance of social relationships, and enhances feelings of connectedness and closeness (Papousek et al 2017).

Humor, although universally valid, is culture specific. The context of humor can depend on cultural influence, the experience of society, and some groups. In some cultures you might be perceived as funny, however, other cultures could perceive you as ignorant or insensitive. Sometimes it’s better to focus on kindness, helping each other, rather than talking about jokes that could potentially be seen as inappropriate. 

Context, storytelling & emotions!

It is not only about the language we use, but also about the passion we show while we are speaking about something. 

The way we connect with people is how we „feel“ each other and how we empathize with each other, very often this happens through our stories. Oxytocin is produced when we are trusted or shown a kindness, and it motivates cooperation with others. It does this by enhancing the sense of empathy, our ability to experience others’ emotions. Empathy is important for social creatures because it allows us to understand how others are likely to react to a situation, including those with whom we work.  If you are interested in the topic, don’t miss the following HBR Article by Paul Z. Zak 2014, Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling). Here is the four-minute video Zak used in his studies to create oxytocin.

Zak’s (2014) experiments show that character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later. In terms of making impact, this blows the standard PowerPoint presentation to bits. Zak therefore recommeds that business people begin every presentation with a compelling, human-scale story.

„People will forget what you said, and they will forget what you did. But, people will never forget how you made them feel“. (Maya Angelou)

 In conclusion, what matters when we are online?

💡 Emotions. people can also „see“ the emotions even though they are online. 
💡 Body language. What you say is important, but non-verbal communication also counts. Body language is not taken just by the context but also by voice!
💡 Voice. This is what matters the most when you are online. The way you facilitate, the tone, and the way you use your voice or increase your volume build trust and connection in an online setting.
💡 Pause. Make a pause even when online. 
💡 Be aware and listen. Even in an online setting reflect on your biases and listen!


„In an online setting, one size doesn’t fit all. Be yourself!“ (Bogdan Manta)

Bogdan Manta

Bogdan Manta

Bogdan is the Founder of The Essential Workshops. Behavioral Profiler, Digital Psychology Expert.

Connect with me on LinkedIn  and follow me to be notified about upcoming #virtualspacehero LinkedIn LIVE Events.

Blog Team

Tamara Mladenovic

Tamara Mladenovic





Follow us!


Share This