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Seven tips to achieve confident and authentic connection: Eye Contact

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

This week I posted an article on why eye contact with the camera is so important and what we can do to improve it. Here are seven tips to show you how you can better achieve that connection.

1. Raise your computer so that the camera is at your eye level. Make a recording adjusting the computer’s position until you find the sweet spot, i.e., where your eye line is connecting squarely to the camera and your position is comfortable.

2. Try standing so that you can have more energy, breathe more freely and move more naturally. This dynamism is played out in the eyes, giving your audience more subtle non-verbal cues to latch on to.

3. Get an HD webcam and place it slightly above your screen. It is much easier and less likely to give you a headache to make regular eye contact with the webcam than the little light or camera hole on a computer. It also enhances the quality of the image significantly so that we can see more nuance in your face and, bonus, you will also look way better in HD!

4. If budget is an issue, most modern smartphones have a great HD camera built-in. You can download an app such as EPOCCAM that can synch in Bluetooth, allowing your phone to become your HD webcam. It is better to use the reverse side of the phone, not the screen side, so that you can connect directly with the camera. Mounting the camera on a small tripod behind your computer screen will allow you to position the phone so that it is placed at your eye level (see tip 1)

5. Most of us spend a lot of time in a meeting or presentation looking at ourselves and the other parties on the screen. As a result of this, we do not get to look in your eyes and notice the natural shifts and changes that happen while you are thinking when speaking or listening. To lessen the ‘forehead effect’ and enhance experience for your audience of being spoken or listened to, use hide self-view so that you are not looking at yourself (and we all do this, so don’t feel bad!). See Tip 7 for suggested ratios of eye /screen contact.

6. When you are connecting with the camera try to picture the person to whom you are speaking. If you are speaking to a group, try to envisage somebody who makes you feel very comfortable at the other end of the camera. Speak as if you are talking directly to them. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get used to personalising the camera, you will befriend the camera more easily and instinctively look more with it than with the screen.

7. Finally, repeating the ratio I gave yesterday that may have caused you a little anxiety! Spend 70% of the time with the camera thinking of connecting with your audience and 30% of the time looking at the screen for feedback cues when speaking. Bring this ratio to 50%-50% when listening. The reality is because most of us are simply ‘talking heads’ in virtual communication, there are not a whole array of body language cues to inform us of how our audience is responding to our speaking. Indeed, you may have noticed that sometimes on a video call, our audience so are so still that we fear our connection has frozen! But no, it just that most of us are not breathing in virtual communication (screen apnea). More about that in another post.

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