Making eye contact with your video conference participants is a little bit trickier than you might think. The camera is actually above the screen, so if you really want to look them in the eye, you have to look at the camera and not at the people.
- Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they just wouldn't look at you when they spoke? They will look left, right, up, down, but never at you. You probably started wondering, why aren't they making eye contact? You might have even started feeling disengaged from the conversation because you were busy wondering what was going on. Hey, it is not your fault. Because, as listeners, we're cued into the other person and we're reading their body language whether we realize it or not. So just as much as maintaining good eye contact with someone when you're speaking to them is important, so is doing it while on a video conference. The good news is doing it right is one of the easiest ways to improve your presence on video. Now where you look while on a video conference depends on the type of scenario and meeting you're in. If you're in an informal meeting, your eyes are going to be looking in a different area versus if there was a formal presentation on video. I'll break down the two scenarios here. The first scenario is what I call an informal video meeting. This is when you and others are on a call to discuss something as a group, not one person has been designated to speak and everyone has an equal opportunity to chime in. In this situation, because you need to look at the screen to see if others are about to talk and you're reading their body language on camera, it's okay for you to look at the screen while you talk as well. In fact, this is easy and natural because the screen is where you'll find all the people on the call anyways. And naturally, we want to look where we see people. So in this setting, do what's natural and just speak with your eyes looking at the screen. Now the second scenario will take more thought. This is if you're on a video call and you're making a presentation to the people on the call and you are the only one speaking. If this is the scenario, be sure to present while looking at the camera lens. Because everyone's eyes are on you, if you look at the lens, it will appear as if you're looking directly at them. That is a strong way to increase presence and authority. Now let me show you how different your eyes will appear depending on where you look. Let's say you're dialed in and you are in an informal meeting, and there are several people on the call. While you're in this meeting, it's okay for you to look at the screen because that is what other people are going to see as well. But now let's switch to where I am presenting and everyone on this call is listening to me. Adjust your eyes so that you're looking at the camera lens. Do you see the difference it made? This is me look at the camera lens and this is me looking down the screen. Your eyes will look different. But when you look at the camera lens, it makes it look like I'm looking directly at you and it just appears more engaging. So again, your eye contact, though subtle, can make a huge difference depending if you look at the screen or into the camera lens. Know what scenario you're going to be in and adjust accordingly.
Learn how to shine on video conference calls. Communication consultant Jessica Chen provides expert advice to look and sound confident, collected, and smart on your next conference call or video presentation. Discover how to prepare your material, how to contribute to the call, and how to incorporate engaging visuals. Get body language, posture, and wardrobe tips to make a powerful impression. Finally, learn the technical details to building a mini "studio" for conducting calls, including choosing a webcam, lighting yourself, and placing a microphone for quality sound.
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