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Not used to video meetings? Here's where to start


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4 min read

Not everyone likes to be on camera.

And if you’re camera-shy, video meetings can be especially painful. It’s a little like hearing your voice in a recording—it never sounds quite right.

The same goes for video. Most of us never quite look the way we’d expected when we see our faces on video conferencing apps. Things like confirmation bias—for example, if you think you’re awkward on camera, you’re more likely to be—make video even more anxiety-inducing.

But there are ways to cope and make it easier.

Here are 5 tips to get started:

  1. Understand what your brain is putting you through
  2. Practice, practice, practice
  3. Set yourself up for success
  4. Study body language
  5. Remember this…

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1. Understand what your brain is putting you through

Unless you’re a TV actor, you probably aren’t used to being on screen on a regular basis.

This fact alone will mess with most people’s heads when it comes to watching themselves on the monitor. 

Step one to getting good at video meetings? Understand that you’re going into them with a disadvantage—our minds’ natural tendency to self-criticize.

There are ways to overcome this. First, realize that everyone else is experiencing the same thing.

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The thing with video conference calls is that there are other people on it too, which means they’re going through the same thing as you.

Second, don’t judge yourself or your feelings. It’s an old Buddhist principle: That which you resist, persists. That which you embrace, escapes. 

Try this with those anxiety-inducing negative feelings on your next video meeting. (If you’re interested in other ways to have better meetings, dig into this guide.) 

Simply observe them—let them in. As you do so, you just might find their grip on your mind easing up.

2. Practice, practice, practice

Once you understand the psychology behind your fear of video, you can start to turn this understanding into confidence.

Start with practicing by yourself. Flip on that webcam and do a little mock meeting.

Then try with your spouse or partner or significant other, if you have one—or if you don’t, try with your mother or father or best friend.

Then broaden it to two friends, then three, then a larger group of people.

The more you put yourself into this situation, as uncomfortable as it might be at first, the less uncomfortable it will become, and you’ll find your confidence growing with every step.

3. Set yourself up for success

A little preparation goes a long way. Put some work into your video scene and setting!

Make sure your background is free of clutter or anything that could be embarrassing or distracting.

Check your webcam view to make sure it’s framing you correctly. Dress appropriately and make sure your hair is the way you want it.

Close your room and lock your door to minimize interruptions. Turn off your phone notifications and volume.

The more you do to prevent any anxiety-inducing unexpected events, the more confident you’ll be—and the better your chances of having a productive video meeting.

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4. Study body language

According to Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, only 7% of a message is conveyed by words. The remaining 93% consists of tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%).

This means a little body language research can go a long way for making your video meetings a source of confidence and success instead of anxiety.

Learn the various body language cues that tell you what others are truly feeling about what you’re saying.

And don’t forget to work on your own body language to make sure your messages are heard clearly and correctly. Sit up straight. Make eye contact. Speak slowly and surely. Use hand gestures for emphasis. Remember to breathe.

The real “language” of video conferencing is in the body—use it correctly and reap the benefits.

5. Remember, it’s no different from in-person meetings

Finally, remember how many in-person meetings you’ve already done—and remember that video meetings are essentially the same.

You’ll look and sound the same. You’ll be interacting the same way.

The only difference is that you’re having to watch yourself in real time.

If it helps, you can actually eliminate the self-watching aspect altogether—just reduce your own video square to the smallest size possible and focus on your teammates’ squares.

Then—really it’s the same as doing things in person.

What’s there to be afraid of?

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What tips do you have for getting more comfortable with video meetings?

Did you know that you can start practicing for video calls—right now? 

Whether you need to check in with your teammates who are working remotely or just want to take your meetings while you’re on the road, video conference calls are your friend.

To get started, try out RingCentral Video—and start getting comfortable in front of the camera:

Originally published Apr 07, 2020, updated Jun 23, 2021

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