The world is changing quickly and video conference calls (Zoom, Skype etc.) are becoming a big part of our everyday life. Do you feel nervous about using Zoom? Don’t worry you are not alone! As a company that has been teaching English through video chat for many years, we have some good ideas about how to make video conference calls a less stressful experience.
Let’s face it, video conference calls are weird
I’ll say it again, video conference calls are weird. Here are a few reasons why:
Technology gets in the way: We are connecting with people that have different skill sets, comfort levels with technology and devices. How many times have you said “Can you hear me? I can see you… can you see me?” It is rare that a video conference call is a completely smooth experience. Especially when you are calling someone for the first time. This raises the stress about the whole experience.
It is weird to see yourself talking: It is weird enough to talk on the telephone, but most of us are used to it. In the old days (hahaha) you could just focus on your thoughts and speak. Now with Zoom, we have the added stress of having to look at ourselves and worrying about what other people see when we are talking. It is harder to focus.
It is hard to listen when you constantly see yourself: Not only is it weird to talk, it is weird to listen on a video conference call. We are distracted. We are distracted by having to look at someone else, and also distracted by the image of ourselves on screen.
Eventually as a society we will all get better at this:) However, in the meantime you may be asking yourself “How do I reduce Zoom anxiety?” or “How can I stop feeling nervous on video calls?” The simple answer, is to plan ahead. Think of the specific things that are causing you stress and work to minimize their effect on your call. See some of our specific suggestions below:
9 tips to help you feel good about video conference calls
1) Speak slowly: With all of the added distractions and issues with technology that we identified, it is important to speak slowly… maybe even slower than you think you should if English is your second language. It will be easier for you to express yourself, and easier for others to understand.
2) Use screen share: If you have to present ideas, take advantage of screen sharing tools. Prepare a short presentation ahead of time to make sure your audience understands your main points. Your thoughts will seem more organized (because they are!) and it will take the focus off of you.
3) Good lighting: Video conference calls are a performance. You can now use your face to express yourself. Your gestures are just as important as the words you choose. Good lighting will allow people to read your facial cues and make you look better on screen!
4) Smile: Don’t forget to smile. Smile a lot! There is something funny about smiling – it is contagious. When you smile, people smile back. Make the video conference call a happy place. You may have noticed it is easier to talk to someone who is smiling.
5) Wear pants: Yes, you are at home, but don’t use that as an excuse to look unprofessional during a work call. You’ll find that if you dress for work, it will make you feel more professional. If you feel better about your appearance, you won’t worry as much about how you look.
6) Find a quiet space: Try to find a private or quiet space for your call in order to reduce background noise. The last thing we want to worry about during a video call is being interrupted by sirens or a loud barking dog. Do your best to control your environment to reduce potential stressors.
7) Wear headphones with a mic: Wearing headphones with a mic makes it easier for others to hear you and for you to hear others. This is especially important if you are on a call with multiple parties.
8) Break the ice: It is hard to jump straight into the meeting agenda if you are nervous about a Zoom call. Try your best to participate early when people are exchanging pleasantries. Hearing your own voice on the call, even with a quick “Hello… how are you?” will make you feel less anxious about speaking later.
9) Don’t look at yourself: If watching yourself while you talk is causing you anxiety, don’t do it. Focus your eyes on the camera. You can also minimize the Zoom window so that you don’t see yourself (or others).
I hope you found these tips useful. If you reduce the risk of distractions and unexpected interruptions, all of these things can minimize your anxiety about video conference calls.
While these are issues that everyone faces, if English is your second language, the problems become amplified. Are you having trouble communicating in English? Try Lingoloop… you won’t believe what our students are saying about us.