Get Comfortable in Front of the Camera

When I photograph or video my kids, they never fail to ask “Can I see it?”  Luckily, they haven’t reached the age yet where they’ll critique the image or ask me to delete it.  They just simply want to see it, because they can.  And they love to see and hear themselves on screen.

Similarly, many customers ask me during telepresence demonstrations “Can I see myself?”  I explain that telepresence is replicating a face to face meeting.  You can’t see yourself when you sit down across a physical conference table from someone, and sitting across a virtual table is no different.

But I understand where they are coming from.  Telepresence is different.  I am a frequent telepresence user, and I still have the urge to fix my hair, check my teeth and apply lipstick before entering the meeting.  I don’t have this compulsion before walking into a conference room for an in-person meeting.  Why is video so different from face to face?  And why do people want to see themselves?

For starters, there is a camera pointed at you.  And aside from most children I know, people become self-conscious when there is a camera pointed at them.  My advice is to confront that fear head on!  One best practice of using telepresence, video or a webcam is to look at the camera when you are talking to provide eye contact to the remote participants.

Jenn Flaa explains how this is also valuable in establishing a connection with your audience.  In a telepresence meeting, you can vary your gaze to see the reaction the other participants have to what you are saying, but try to center yourself back on the camera.

It may take a little practice, but I can attest it can become second nature.  You may even find you enjoy talking to the camera.  Get in touch with your unguarded inner child and pretend you are fulfilling your childhood dream of being a news anchor.  (Or was that just me?)

Does anyone have any other best practices to share on using telepresence?  Do you act differently in a telepresence meeting than an in-person one?  Why? We look forward to your comments.
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