Over the past few years, we have seen the entire world transition to online meetings. Whether you are learning a new skill or collaborating with your colleagues, online meetings are a constant in most people’s lives. Despite being normalized, most people still struggle with being themselves in front of a camera. Between continuously glancing at your own face to not knowing which way to look, video calls can be a nightmare for some. It is surprising how even the most skilled communicators can start to feel awkward and camera-shy once the webcam light turns on. Regardless of the high rates of adoption, video is still a new medium for most of us.
Similar to public speaking, video communication can make us feel vulnerable in the beginning. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get acclimated to the world of online meetings in no time!
Tips to Overcome Being Camera Shy
The good news for camera-shy people is that like any other skill, being confident in front of the camera is a skill that can be learned and eventually mastered. Here are a few tips for being more confident in front of the webcam.
Use the “Mirror Image” or “Flip Camera” Option
As a default, we are used to seeing ourselves in front of a mirror and might feel uncomfortable seeing ourselves in a webcam when the image isn’t flipped. That is because our faces are not symmetrical and our facial expressions appear different when not being seen in a mirror. Luckily, most video conferencing apps like Zoom have an image flip option that allows you to view your video as if it were mirrored, allowing you to get more comfortable with online video calls.
Look Your Best
One of the easiest ways to get a confidence boost is to look your best. Just because people can’t see you fully in video meetings doesn’t mean that you should skimp on your overall appearance. The way you dress not only makes an instant impression on your colleagues but also gives people an insight into how seriously you take your work. So instead of looking like you just jumped out of bed to attend a meeting, get ready for your video conference calls just as you would for any in-person meeting. The serotonin released from looking your best will carry into your meeting and help you perform your best.
Use “Touchup” Filters
Sometimes you just can’t help but feel a little conscious of that tiny scar or untimely blemish. For those moments, popular video meeting apps offer touchup filters that apply a smoothing effect to your skin. You shouldn’t ever feel that you need to use filters, but if it helps give you a tiny boost of confidence when you’re feeling particularly anxious, you needn’t shy away from the solution either.
Set Up a Meeting Area
Having a good setup is imperative to a seamless online meeting. From making sure your camera and microphone are working to ensuring that your background is clean and that your room has good lighting, setting up a meeting area is made up of several small tasks. Try to join the meeting a bit early so that you can see how your background looks, in case it needs any adjustments.
A pro tip for background management is that you can choose to blur your background in Zoom, Google Meet, and other similar video meeting apps in just a few clicks, preventing your colleagues from seeing the clutter in your background. You can even swap out the background completely.
Slow Down, Practice
If you are prone to camera anxiety, it is probable that you subconsciously speed up the rate at which you are talking on camera. When you are taking an online meeting, try to make a conscious effort to slow down your speech.
A good way to practice this is by familiarizing yourself with talking through your webcam by recording video messages using a screen recorder like Jumpshare. You can start by setting an agenda for your message and maybe even note down some talking points before you start recording. By going through the motions of a meeting on your own terms, you can soothe your anxiety and get over your camera phobia.
When you are talking face-to-face with a person, you give them your full attention. The same principle should be true in online meetings. Before starting an online meeting, close all your apps and disable your notifications to make sure you are not disrupted by an untimely email or Slack notification. To be on the safe side, you should also close any unrelated browser tabs in case you need to share your screen with a team member.
Always Be Yourself
Instead of trying to perfect your speech into a robotic monologue, try to give yourself permission to be human. One of the best ways to break through the waves of anxiety is to allow yourself to have fun. Connect with your coworkers with a funny virtual background, make jokes, and smile sincerely, and you are well on your way to a fun and successful online meeting!
Video meetings are like just any other meeting. They might seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and practice, you will be on your way to stress-free online meetings in no time! If not, you could always stick to asynchronous visual communication and skip meetings altogether.