Now that turning on our videos in virtual meetings has become the norm, we face a new challenge. Video call fatigue… also referred to as being “Zoom’ed out” by those of us using Zoom.
While I generally find great value in seeing others and being seen, there are times when I prefer to go old school and just talk on the phone.
This one tip has changed my entire experience.
Most of us are acutely aware of how we look during the entire meeting because we are watching ourselves. Sometimes, it is as if we are talking to a mirror all day long. Even on the days, I look my best, I find myself conscious of every facial expression, how close I am to the camera, and my posture. On days I’m not looking my finest, my confidence drops as I critique the way I look, which affects how I show up.
I’ve been in so many virtual meetings where the participants are clearly looking at themselves and not me. And, I have been that person too! So, in a one-to-one meeting or a meeting with less than 5 people, I usually turn on “Hide Self View” after I’m sure I’m centered and well lit. In this mode, everyone can see my video except for me. Note: This is NOT the same thing as turning off my video.
By hiding my self-view, I focus on the faces of the people I am speaking to, not on myself. This frees me up to be present. I find I am more relaxed and natural. Think about it, in an in-person conversation we don’t have to watch ourselves the entire time.
Seeing each other helps build trust and rapport and we don’t want to lose that benefit. Try turning on your videos for the first five minutes of the meeting and then again as you start to wrap up and say goodbye. During the bulk of the meeting, everyone can turn off their videos and relax. Besides, you might be sharing screens or taking notes, and this way you don’t have to be concerned with how you are looking to others.
My “thinking” face often get’s comments like, “Are you OK?” or “Are you Upset?” So, when I’m on a call requiring deep thinking, it’s a welcome relief not to also have to be aware of my facial expressions.
Suggest this approach to your team or those you meet with to be sure it works for everyone involved.
Every call doesn’t have to be a video call. Determine if there is a value-added to have videos on during your call. If not, just forgo the video altogether. I am relieved sometimes when people just want to talk without the video.
The no-video method is ideal for conversations between just 2-3 people. Once you get four or more people, the visual cues from the videos help prevent talking over each other.
Some coaching clients I work with prefer just a phone call. I think that is because they can relax more. I like a non-video call because I can move around, take notes, slouch in a chair, and kick my feet up.
Videos can help build connections and trust in your virtual meetings. They can also become a distraction that can use up your energy. The key is to find a balance. Decide when videos are adding value and turn them on. Determine when videos are distracting or unnecessary and turn them off or minimize their use with the sandwich method.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and the Forward, community, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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