If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times since the pandemic hit the world; “I have zoom fatigue!” Yes, there absolutely is such a thing.
Think about it; when we used to go to the office, we’d move from our desks, to conference rooms, to client visits, to the snack lounge or any number of places over the course of a day. There was some variety from “nine to five” more often than not. Now, we sit in front of a computer screen, on video conference calls all day long, hour after hour after hour!
Enter “Zoom fatigue.”
It takes so much more energy to connect with others, to engage an audience, to have “presence” in a virtual environment Compounding upon that is the indefinite timeline during which we’ll continue to work in this way.
Why does it take so much more energy? When you meet in person, you “feel” the energy of the people around you. You can read their body language. You can see if they are engaged with you and comprehending what you are saying. For those who are used to being on a stage giving a presentation, you feed off of the energy you get from the audience. Athletes know about this energy. When there is a stadium filled with fans, that’s fuel for them. The silent stadiums during the NFLs Week 1, however, may have felt more like practice than game day.
In a similar way, when you are on a virtual call or webinar, as the speaker or presenter, you don’t feel the energy coming back at you. Therefore, YOU have to create all of that energy by yourself,which often means you must give more – more energy, more passion, and better storytelling or messaging. You need to make “eye contact” with the camera. All of this to have “presence.”
How do you have eye contact virtually? You need to get comfortable looking into that tiny little camera lens at the top of your computer or into your external camera. My years in television have given me more experience than most in doing this. Getting started, it may feel awkward, but it is the way to virtually look at your audience – to connect with them and to show confidence and presence. Understandably, people tend to look at the faces on their computer screen, and not into the camera. You want to see people’s faces when you speak to them, but in doing so, they do not feel as if you are looking at them and so you miss out on that connection. A helpful reminder? Put a post-it note with an arrow on your computer aimed at the camera.
Avoid using an iPad if you need to speak/present, unless you can add an external camera to the top. With the iPad’s camera often to the left or right of the actual screen, making “eye contact” is extremely difficult.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working with corporations who are transforming their annual in-person conferences to virtual events.They are finding that, in order to do it well, their teams need to learn new speaking skills. As a communication coach, I’ve been teaching them tips and techniques to ensure each presenter has presence, is engaging, and keeps their audience’s attention throughout the event. Looking into the camera lens is just one tip, but it’s often the most challenging, too.
Another tip: make sure you have enough light on your face so people can read your facial expressions, which are a key component of communicating and showing presence, especially virtually. The light should be in front of you, not behind you. For more tips, take a look at this video conference guide.
More than likely, the virtual workplace will continue to dominate for quite some time and will certainly never disappear, even when the world begins to regain some normalcy. So, now is the time to learn to do it well and to take your communication skills to the next level. Communication coaching will build your presence virtually and in-person, so invest in your professional development today.
Brunner Communications assists high-profile individuals and organizations in developing powerful, meaningful, and desirable brand identities. Through customized virtual or in-person training, either one-on-one or in workshops/seminars, clients learn the necessary skills to become great communicators and to build marketable reputations. The firm provides ongoing consultative expertise to ensure reputations and performance skills are maintained.
Interested in Taking Yourself or Your Executive Team to the Next Level?
Brunner Communications assists high-profile individuals and organizations in sharpening and developing top level business communication, executive presence, and public speaking skills. Our passionate team provides one-on-one executive business coaching, and runs specialized business workshops. Through customized training, clients learn the necessary skills to become great communicators and build a marketable reputation.