The use of video conferencing, such as Zoom, has dramatically increased in recent years. When I first got into the workforce in 2007, video conferencing was fairly new. Most people in the office where I worked still used the phone for regular conversations with outside colleagues. But video chat was starting to become more common.
But as the technology improved, video became much more common and today many people use it nearly every day. And that likely won’t change. Video certainly won’t be the only form of communication, but it’s become part of our every day lives.
One issue, however, with video conferencing is that it can put people on edge. It can make them anxious. It can lead to poor work performance and stress.
So here are a few ways to help put others at ease if you’re hosting a Zoom call…
1. Lessen The Power of Your Face
I’ve been guilty of this in the past and I still do it on occasion. I can tell that it’s awkward for others. The issue is probably that I use a laptop.
My face takes up a large area of the screen when I do a Zoom call. So I’ve started to back off. I tried thinking about it in terms of talking with a person face-to-face. They wouldn’t want me standing so close to them that my face took up 90% of their field of vision.
So I’ve tried to back off. I’ve tried to leave room at the top of my head and have tried to leave room for the top of my chest. That seems to better mimic a real life setting.
“In-your-face” can seem intimidating or just plain uncomfortable.
2. Allow For Breaks In Long Meetings
Most of the Zoom calls I have last about 20-30 minutes. That’s a pretty comfortable amount of time. If they get beyond that though things start getting fidgety and it’s important to include some breaks. Even just a little time to stretch or take a drink of water or whatever.
Part of the tension from these meetings seems to come from the seeming inability to move. We get locked into what we look like on screen. We don’t want to just disappear from the call even if our voice is still there.
3. Turn Off The Video
Video calls can be great. Often they go off well and you and the other person interact well. You communicate what you need to communicate. The other person comprehends things. It’s a good interaction and it was probably helped that you had visual cues into the other person’s communication.
But sometimes it’s good to go back to just voice communication. Like the old fashioned telephone calls. If a person seems uncomfortable for some reason, try turning off the video and just having a voice conversation. It may not help, but I’ve found that it can help in some situations.
4. Present Calmness
Some video calls are between two coworkers having a casual talk about something. Perhaps a project. Nothing that will raise the tension. But a fair number of these calls do have some element of tension. And in those situations it can help to present calmness from your point of view. That can help to ease the stress of the others on the call.
Maybe you’re talking to your team on a Zoom call about a recent issue. You’re figuring out how to handle it. As the leader, it can be good to be the one that is calm. You don’t have to necessarily say it, but presenting the feeling that everything will be okay can make others feel at ease and ready to figure out the right solution.
Sometimes a simple smile can ease the tension on a video call. It can let the others know that you’re in a good mood, you’re happy to be there with them and that you feel you’re going to accomplish something during the call.
Zoom calls are here to stay. I’m guessing that we might not use them at the rate of growth as much in the future, but we will use them at least as much and probably a bit more in the coming years. So it’s important to get the most out of the ones that you’re hosting. And hopefully these tips can help make that happen.