Eye contact isn’t easy for everyone. And now that we’ve been in isolation for months, it can be hard to remember how, exactly, to interact and function in the presence of other human beings. For now, the closest most of us get is on work video meetings, when you get a glimpse into your colleague’s quarantine life (and home). When you’re in a group video conference (or even if it’s just one-on-one) it can be hard to remember to make digital eye contact with the other people on the call — but it’s probably a good idea.
Keep their attention
Just like when you’re presenting something or speaking to someone in person, you want people to pay attention to what you’re saying. And so while it may feel weird to stare at that little circle at the top of your laptop, or directly into a webcam, you should. It will help you connect with your colleagues or audience, and will help gain and maintain their attention.
Talk with your hands (if you normally do)
In addition to gazing deep into the web cam, don’t be afraid to talk with your hands. A recent article in Fast Company shares some tips for doing this effectively:
Record yourself in your videoconferencing software to make sure your hands are saying what you think they’re saying. Be sure to keep your gestures within the frame of the screen. Back away from the camera to include your hands in the view. A good rule of thumb is your head should take up 1/3 of the screen. If you are using a virtual background, keep your gestures in front of your body, rather than out to the side. This will help mitigate the digital halo effect.
Look, the reality is that if you’re working remotely, you’re going to be on video conference calls on a weekly (if not daily) basis, and that’s not going to change any time soon. It might feel weird to stare at the web camera in an artificial attempt to simulate eye contact, but you’re going to have plenty of time to get used to it.