How to look (and feel!) engaged on video calls


Now that we’ve been working virtually for over a year, chances are you know the importance of showing up with good lighting and a clean background for your Zoom meetings…

…The thing is, turning on all your lamps and putting your laundry away does *not* magically translate to a calm and confident presence once you hit “launch meeting.” 

If you’re unsure where to look or how to direct your attention on camera so that you come across as engaged in the conversation, you’re NOT alone and today’s blog post is for you! 

But before we dive into how to manage your focus on-camera, let’s review what NOT to do: 

❌  stare directly into the camera and let go of your natural expressiveness

❌  dart your eyes around while you talk and look uncertain of what you’re saying

Instead, try embodying your most engaged self, so you engage others more naturally.

Check out this clip from an interview with BostonSpeaks to learn three quick steps for connecting with your virtual audience AND coming across at your best on-camera

Step #1: Direct your eyes at people’s faces when you speak up in Zoom meetings instead of staring at the camera.

If you stare directly into the camera, your eyes may be steady… but you’re likely to lose some of your natural expressiveness. By bringing your gaze to one person’s face at a time, you’ll immediately look—and feel—more connected and engaged.

Step #2: Make “nose contact,” NOT just eye contact.

If you move just your eyes from face to face as you’re talking, you’re likely to look distracted and unsettled. By intentionally making “nose contact” with each person you direct your attention to, it’ll be much clearer that you’re changing your focus and “working the room” as you speak.

Pro tip: Find a balance between keeping your gaze steady and switching your focus between different people. A good rule of thumb is to land your eyes (and nose!) on one person and stay there while you make a point or two, then steer your eyes (and nose!) to another person, and communicate your next point or two.  No need to dart from face to face every other word or stare down one team member the entire time you’re talking.

Step #3: Use people’s names!

This is one of my favorite tricks for running smoother Zoom meetings. By using people’s names as you speak, you send a clear message that you’re bringing them into the fold (even if they can’t tell that you’re looking at them). 

Think of it as a game of volleyball. You want to let someone know that you’re passing the ball to them. By saying their name, it’s like saying “you got it!” Or when you say your own name and that you’re jumping in, it’s like saying “I got it!” 

Pro tip: combine this trick with step #2 for the most direct and clear virtual communication: make “nose contact” with someone as you address them by name. This mimics how you might refer to or address someone in an in-person meeting with a gesture.

The best part about using these three tips? 

Not only will you LOOK more focused and engaged, you’ll FEEL more focused and engaged.

Want to learn more techniques for engaging with your audience, whether over Zoom or back in the face-to-face world?

Could your team benefit from learning these skills too? I’m talkin how to:

👉 project credibility through a screen

👉 structure your meetings and presentations so they work for you instead of against you

👉 translate your in-person communication style to the virtual world, so you hook your audience from the beginning and keep them engaged the whole way through… 

Then you’ll want to fill out our inquiry form to book one of SelfSpoken’s signature team trainings!

>>> Here’s a copy of our 2021 Team Training brochure…

And here’s what some recent team leads have to say…

To chat more, fill out our inquiry form! I’d learn to love more about you and your team’s goals.


Read this next…

Oh Baby! Hello From The Other Side…

Some goodies to tie you over while I’m out on maternity leave Guess what? On October 14th, my husband, daughter and I took the…

How to Leverage Your Authentic Communication Style

Have you ever wanted to improve your communication skills and day-to-day speaking confidence, but the advice you found online or in self-help books just……

Awkward Silence: Is It Your Job to Fill It?

Picture this: You’ve just given your colleagues a status update about something you’re working on and then…  *Crickets* – an awkward silence. You think…