10

Zoom meetings are a new normal in these interesting times.

I have been reading on how to make them better.

One tip is when you are speaking, to make sure you look into the camera not at your own thumbnail.

Trouble is, I find this hard, trying to make a connection with a small round circle in a piece of plastic.

However actors do this successfully everyday.

Do any SE browsing actors, have any pro tips on making emotional connections with a camera?

0
5

I've been working in a remote-friendly environment for about 3 years now & have seen lots of good and bad examples of how to do remote-meetings.

When you're in-person for a meeting, eye contact is very important because:

  • If you're the listener, it shows you're paying attention
  • If you're the speaker, it helps you build a connection with your audience
  • Helps you be aware of social nuances (speaker/listeners reactions, interest levels, etc)

When you're over Zoom (or any other remote meeting tool), it works a bit different. The goals are the same, but the methods are slightly different. Eye contact is still nice, but it's somewhat expected that you won't be looking directly at your webcam all the time. Instead, here are ways to accomplish the same goals:

  • To show you're paying attention, keep your eyes steady (on the speaker's profile, on the shared screen, etc) and don't aimlessly glance around your screen or at all the attendees. Whenever I'm speaking on online meetings, I can tell who's listening by watching people's eyes. If someone's eyes keep jumping around their screen, they're almost always multi-tasking or simply not paying full attention.

  • To make a connection with your audience/presenter, I'd recommend following @lemon's suggestion of moving the app window to right near the webcam. That will give off the impression that you're truly talking to your audience, rather than simply talking in the general direction of your computer.

  • To be aware of social nuances, DO watch the people who you're talking with. Even remotely, it's surprisingly easy to tell when someone's lips tighten or someone makes an slight facial expression at something you've said.

Note that most other suggested answers to this question (such as taping a picture of eyes or a loved one next to your webcam, or a teleprompter) don't allow you to track the social cues from others in the meeting. I think it's EXTRA important to watch for subtle social cues when over Zoom, since it can be harder to see body language.

2
  • This is very useful advice. What's your take on people who are actively taking notes? I do so constantly in meetings and I suspect that appears like multi-tasking? – Lilienthal Aug 31 '20 at 15:53
  • 2
    @Lilienthal Sometimes its helpful to give the speaker a heads up that you'll be taking notes & aren't doing other things in the background. Not required but it can alleviate the multi-tasking appearance. – c36 Aug 31 '20 at 19:19
8

I got this one from my daughter.

tape a couple of fake eyes by the web cam and look at the eyes.

7

Not an actor, but here's what I found useful - making the app window smaller and moving it just below the webcam. My eyes wander less and I can almost trick myself into eye contact with other people's thumbnails.

This works best while I'm talking and looking at other participants for reaction. Rest of the time it's still hard to focus on that part of the screen. It gets worse if I'm using laptop and an additional screen, so I tend to turn the additional screen off for important meetings.

2
  • 3
    +1. I've been doing about 4 live gaming streams a week in the last few months, and this is what I've found works best for me. Recommended. – Daniel R. Collins Aug 29 '20 at 19:19
  • 1
    I use a similar tactic. Works as well if you're presenting anything, keep the material near the camera. – Reuben Mallaby Aug 29 '20 at 21:17
1

I've seen teleprompters for this use case as well as simple 1-way mirrors that you hang on top of the monitor and covering the webcam, so that you see the person talking on top of the webcam's lens.

Here's an example of the DIY version, and then there's also lots of commercial stuff like this or that.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .