Virtual Meeting Etiquette: Webcam Eye Contact

By March 17, 2021June 30th, 2021Blog
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With virtual meetings surging during the 2020 pandemic, virtual meeting etiquette has entered the spotlight for many entrepreneurs and professionals. After finding themselves staring into the void on video calls, people have begun to realize on-camera eye contact may be more challenging than they thought.

Therefore, we decided to share some insider hacks on making effective, genuine eye contact on-camera–whether you’re making a recording or participating in a virtual meeting. We hope you’re ready to impress your audience — and build a genuine connection that goes beyond the screen and inspires meeting participants to take action.

The Importance of Eye Contact on Camera

Making good eye contact with your audience, whether on camera or off, is one of the best ways to build trust. If you are recording yourself as part of video prospecting campaign or actually talking to someone live through your webcam, looking someone in the eye is critical.

However, when it comes to your virtual meeting etiquette, you must remember two things:

  • What you think to be eye-contact might come across as you staring somewhere else.
  • Too much eye contact can make your audience feel quite uncomfortable.

Here’s a rule of thumb: think about the camera as a tangible representation of your conversation partner and interact with it in the same way you would with someone face-to-face. Therefore, don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in real life–such as staring directly into someone’s face for 30-minutes straight.

Look into the Camera, Not the Screen

A common mistake made by those new to virtual conferencing is staring straight at the screen. After all, that’s where the faces of the people on the call usually are. They think they’re making eye contact with the audience. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.

For example, if your webcam is situated at the top of your laptop screen, when you look at the faces below it, your eyes are naturally looking down. As a result, you appear to be looking not at their eyes but rather elsewhere.

Trying to have a conversation with someone who is not looking at you can feel uncomfortable in person. It feels awkward when speaking virtually, as well. Instead, if you are trying to really connect and speak with impact, look into the webcam lens.

In order to make it appear as natural as possible, make sure your webcam is at eye level. There are plenty of laptop stands that you can find with a quick search on Amazon, but you can easily go low-tech and just prop your laptop up on a stack of books. Angle the camera so it points directly behind you and not up at the ceiling. But be careful—that fan whirring above your head is super distracting and a tell-tale sign that your camera is pointing up. Adjust the shot so your ceiling is out of view and you just see the wall behind you.

Breathe and Take Breaks

In our previous virtual meeting etiquette guide, we spoke about how looking away makes your on-camera eye contact more natural. However, sometimes we appear to be searching for invisible UFOs across the ceiling when we try to break our gaze during a virtual meeting.  In return, we end up appearing more awkward than we would have been if we had been merely staring into the camera the entire time.

Fortunately, there are best practices you can follow. Try one of these hacks next time you record yourself on your webcam:

  • Use flashcards with hint words instead of trying to read from a full script.
  • Take a quick glance down when transitioning from one topic to the next. It signals to your audience that you are closing one chapter and starting a new one.
  • Sometimes it can feel like you are just talking to yourself when delivering to a webcam. Remind yourself that you’re talking to a person by placing a photo of a friend or family member beside the camera lens.
  • Stick a Post-It arrow pointing at your camera lens to remind you where you want to direct most of your attention when speaking.

Reach the Next Level of On-Camera Performance

Most professionals expect virtual meetings to remain a core part of our new work routine. Meanwhile, many do not anticipate large-scale in-person interactions until at least the second half of 2021. Therefore, the ability to develop authentic connections in front of a webcam will largely determine how well you, your career, and your business grow.

Learn more about virtual meeting etiquette and other on-camera strategies with our latest book release. Sign up and download a free chapter to get a preview of what to expect. We know virtual meetings are the future, and we are ready to help you unleash your best on-camera personality within.