Look Me In The Eye: How to Master Virtual Eye Contact
Therese Miclot, Director, Facilitation Excellence
Eye contact is important—whether it’s virtual or in-person. People who make more eye contact are generally perceived as more connected, conscientious and sincere (in Western cultures, at least) and we're more inclined to believe what they say. It's worth your effort to get better at virtual eye contact if you want to build relationships, influence and reach better outcomes.
Try this tips:
- Look directly into the camera when speaking. That's virtual eye contact! It can feel weird because you're not looking at faces, making it’s difficult to read reactions. Yet, to others, it feels like you're looking directly at them. Try balancing talking with listening. When you’re not speaking, glance at people to read their reactions.
- Move people's images directly below your camera. Most virtual platforms allow you to reposition video boxes. Then you can subtly glance down from your camera and look at faces. Plus, your eye movement isn't as noticeable.
- Verbalize where you're looking. Maintain the connection with statements like, "I'm looking at you and I can see you're shrugging your shoulder. Tell me what you think?" or "My eyes are on the chat window now and I'm reading your comments."
- Focus on non-verbal behaviors. When your eyes are on people and not the camera, reflect their expressions and emotions. People feel "seen" when you match facial expressions, pacing, vocal tone and inflection.
- Manage the voice in your head. If the tape in your head is telling you, "It's hard. I don't like it." try shifting it to, "It might be awkward for me but it's comfortable for others."
- Stop sharing your screen. If you don't need to refer to content, shift to gallery view where you're looking at faces. It creates a conversational atmosphere while allowing others to make eye contact with you.
On your next virtual call, notice when people are giving or not giving you eye contact and how it makes you feel. Try one tip for making a bigger impact.
Therese Miclot is Proteus' Director of Facilitation Excellence. She delivers – and teaches others to deliver – dynamic, interactive, world-class learning experiences. Her ability to build facilitation skills is grounded in a practical approach which results in increased capability, confidence, and improved results in any situation where facilitation matters.
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