When to Look at the Camera in a Zoom Meeting
I’m often asked, “when do I need to look at the camera in a zoom meeting?” The short answer is: how often would you make eye contact with someone in person?
In order to build a relationship, experts recommend making direct eye contact about two thirds of the time – when in person. I believe that percentage is even higher on video because you don’t share a common environment with your customer. That means when you break eye contact, your customer doesn’t know what you’re looking at – your screen, your notes, your phone? All they know for sure is that you have broken your connection with them.
Looking at the camera 70-80% of the time on a virtual call may seem like an impossible goal — especially if you’re already struggling to check in with the camera even occasionally! The good news is that it is possible. We see actors and on-camera professionals do it all the time by learning a series of techniques that soon become second nature. But initially, you can start by making sure you are looking at the camera during those times where eye contact has the greatest impact on your audience – or the lack of eye contact causes the most damage.
When to Look at the Camera in a Zoom Meeting:
1. When You Are Delivering a Key Point.
Imagine someone telling you they love you while looking at their shoes. Would it have the same impact, certainty, or emotion as it would if they were looking directly into your eyes? Surely not. While you may not be professing love to a customer, you likely have a few key points that you want to stand out and sink in more than others. Whether it’s your value proposition, a benefit statement, or a competitive differentiator, these messages will be much more memorable and credible if you look into your customer’s eyes (the camera) as you are saying them.
2. When You Ask a Question.
Ever ask a question in a virtual meeting and be met with an excruciatingly long silence? There’s a good chance you were looking at your screen when you asked it. That visual cue of someone looking at you expecting an answer is surprisingly powerful – whether we are in person or on video. If you’re not looking at the camera, many people assume your question is intended for someone else in the meeting. Want to get your questions answered? Try looking directly into the camera when you ask a question. And hold your gaze there until you get a response. I guarantee you it will improve your response rate!
If you were pouring your heart out to me and I was looking away the whole time, you’d be right to question my attention and interest. Yet when we are looking at our customer on our screen, this is precisely what they experience. Some sellers argue their customers will give them a pass because, “they know I’m probably looking at my image.” I argue this is a dangerous assumption. First of all, it’s not our customer’s job (or inclination to make excuses for us just because something is difficult. Second, that is applying logic to an emotional experience. And relationships are built on emotions, not logic. So even if your customer bothers to tell themselves you are looking at their image, it will feel like you aren’t that interested or attentive.
Making direct, personal eye contact with your customer on camera is a non-negotiable skill for sellers who need to building trust and relationships on video. While not easy, I’ve taken all the guesswork out of how to make eye contact, read body language, manage your audience, and much, much more in my new book, Look Me In the Eye!
This is just one of the tips that I include in my new book that won the Gold Medal Top Sales Book of 2021, Look Me In The Eye Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers, Partners and Teams. Feel free to check it out if you’re looking for more tips on how to engage customers and drive more sales on video.
Get your copy today on Amazon!