Communication essentials: eye contact

I came across this ‘old’ article (by ‘old,’ I mean February) that really made me stop and think for a minute. The article is from Inc., called:

TED’s Top Speaking Coach Says These Are the 3 Biggest Zoom Mistakes People Are Still Making

In the article, the speaking coach – Briar Goldberg – shares three things she thinks we should be improving on Zoom:

  1. We’re not making great eye contact. (Looking at the audience on the window and not the camera.)
  2. You either read it or wing it. (Neither is a good strategy.)
  3. You let people turn off their cameras. (Wait … what?)

I thought the third one interesting from a real-world perspective. Why are we letting people do this? You wouldn’t let people close their eyes or hide behind a Trapper Keeper® in a real meeting. (Yes, I said Trapper Keeper.)

Anyway, that’s not the point of this blog. Today’s ‘communication essential’ is around eye contact. Briar says we should be focusing on the camera to look at and engage with the audience. I think this is great advice—for any situation. Real or virtual. I can’t tell you how many times I looked past people, in person, or used the ‘focus on a point in the back of the room’ trick.

So why am I bringing this up and calling it out today? Well, this article was intended to help us break some bad Zoom habits. BUT … as so many of us prepare to return to in-person soon (or already have), I thought it was a great point to call out. We’ve spent the better part of the last year missing and wishing for that real contact—let’s make the most of it and SEE who’s really sitting in our audience.

After all, compared to 2020 … public speaking probably doesn’t seem as scary as it once did, right?