We all agree making direct eye contact with others in business is important, right? So why do we see so little of it on video calls or virtual meetings?
Because it’s not easy!
Most people get stuck looking at the other person’s picture or video. They may occasionally glance at the camera and feel that’s sufficient. But here’s the secret: while it feels like you’re making eye contact when you do this, it doesn’t read as eye contact to the other person. In fact, it feels like you’re not paying much attention at all!
To make eye contact on video or virtual meetings, there’s no way around it: You need to look at the camera. It’s vital that we learn how to look at the camera and carry on a conversation with as much focus, passion, and intention as if our listener is seated right in front of us.
Fortunately, actors have been perfecting this skill for years. I describe the process in detail in my book, “Look me In the Eye,” but here’s the simplified method:
1. Leverage your peripheral vision to read body language to free you up to look at the camera.
- Move your listener’s images around on your screen so that it is as close to your camera lens as possible. It’s unlikely that it will be a perfect match—but you should be able to see major expressions and changes in body language in your listener while focusing on the camera.
- Instead of focusing on your listener’s image on your screen, mentally project their image onto the lens of the camera.
- Now, imagine that person’s reactions as you speak. This will keep your delivery well-paced and create a dynamic exchange.
- If you are talking to a group, still only focus on a single person in the camera as this will make everyone in the meeting feel like you are connecting just with them.
If you’re ready to learn how professionals make eye contact and read body language while improving engagement and impact in virtual meetings, check out my new course, Virtual Presence for Sales Pros!