The best (and worst) place to look during video calls


Let’s face it: looking directly into the camera when you’re speaking on video calls is AWKWARD and UNNATURAL.

If you find yourself wondering where to look, especially when there are multiple people on the screen, you’re not alone and today’s blog post is for YOU. 

One of the most frequent questions I get, especially while working with small (but mighty!) teams on elevating their virtual communication skills is: 

Where should I look when I’m talking so that:

a) others feel like I’m talking directly to them – and not looking at some random part of my screen…

b) I don’t feel distracted by my own reflection…

c) I feel like I’m *actually* engaging people – and not just look at the camera…

Check out this 2-minute video clip from inside a Small (but mighty!) Team Training session. I’ll give you my two cents about where to look and how to manage the awkwardness of remote eye contact. Plus, I’ll also show you how to set yourself up in the frame so you feel more like you’re in the same room with people – both for your sake and theirs!

That’s right: trust your instinct not to look directly into the camera. But instead, pick a face– ideally the one you’re addressing and set yourself up in the frame so that your eye-line is steady and feels focused – no matter who you’re looking at.

Because guess what? Whether or not we notice it in the moment, looking directly into the camera strips us of our natural expressiveness.

It’s so simple, but making sure you’re centered in the frame will guarantee your eye line is similar to how it would be if you were making eye contact in-person, face-to-face. 

If you sense that temptation to dart your eyes around the room to think about what you want to say next – try pulling them back to one focal point.

I promise you can keep your eyes more still AND THINK at the same time.

At first, it might feel strange to keep your eyes more steady and think at the same time, but if you turn it into a practice, over time you’ll notice that, not only will you be able to process your thoughts and retrieve your words more easily, but you’ll also come across as more grounded and direct. Both on video calls and back in the face-to-face world. 

So bottom line? Don’t give into that temptation to let your eyes glance up or around the room when you’re speaking. Instead, try to keep your eyes more focused on who you’re speaking to.

If you’re thinking to yourself: I already keep my eyes steady and focused on the people I’m speaking to… then I challenge you to record a few minutes of yourself speaking on a Zoom call.

Not because I don’t think you’re an effective communicator, but because chances are, you dart your eyes more than you think you do (hint: we all do!) and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Pro Tip: the more you bring your attention to keeping your eyes steady and focused as you speak, the more automatic that habit will become. And the best part is, once you can rely on your own steady eye contact, especially when you’re thinking or processing your next thought, you’ll feel more centered and in control on the inside AND  you’ll convey more competence and trustworthiness on the outside.

Check out this blog post (featuring members of our community) to see just how powerful watching yourself on video and evaluating your own communication habits can be!

In the meantime, thanks so much for being here. And for not turning into a total Zoombie on us yet 😉

I know these back-to-back calls can be exhausting and that you’re doing the best you can. (I’m right there with you!)

Just keep showing up as the you, you most wanna be. One intention, one interaction at a time.

I’ll see you next week!

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