In this era of technical advancement, everyone uses Zoom, be it awkward zoom meetings or chatting with friends. Moreover, video and audio chat have made it simple for us to stay in touch with our loved ones, coworkers, and clients and continue to maintain relationships with face-to-face interaction.
Although we adore Zoom and are incredibly appreciative of the chance to communicate with others via video chat, this mode of communication is not always the most pleasant.
Let’s face it, a sizable portion of us dislike using teleconferencing tools like Zoom or others. Sometimes they can be awkward, clumsy, and confusing.
Reasons for being awkward on Zoom
1. Staring or focusing on yourself
It’s alluring to listen to your own voice recorded on your tiny video box.
Despite the fact that I haven’t come across any studies examining the long-term efficacy of self-reflection and video conferencing, scientists have spent a lot of time researching what occurs when you stare at yourself in the mirror for a very long time.
When looking in the mirror, people with poor self-esteem may experience a “paralysing impact,” which is accentuated on camera.
We spend more time than ever staring at and scrutinising ourselves as a result of the endless video chats on zoom we have with loved ones, friends, and coworkers. In addition to staring at ourselves from laptop screens with notoriously unattractive angles, the alleged defects we typically don’t see are now much more noticeable through these calls.
We’re not used to hearing our own voices but we watch it for hours now through zoom calls. It has been observed that people make odd facial expressions and analyze smiling habits that they had never considered before.
2. Insufficient use of non verbal cues
A 2013 study that was published in the Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace indicated that when communicating through a screen, we become more emotionally and physically subdued.
When you speak to someone face-to-face, nonverbal clues help your brain interpret what is being said so you can respond appropriately.
These cues establish the foundation for intimacy and emotional connection. Zoom compromises these skills, adding to the mental strain.
For someone who communicates effectively through non-verbal cues, this can be especially taxing.
3. Addressing everyone
It may seem simple, but concentrating on only one person will make you feel more at ease and communicative. Simultaneously scanning everyone’s face can be distracting and overwhelming. Sometimes, a person keeps scanning the virtual room for thirty minutes before talking, which, as we have already discussed, is extremely taxing. Try talking to only one person instead. Build a natural conversational flow while giving them your whole attention as if you were actually standing next to them.
4. Being on mute
The mute button can be your worst enemy. Low background noise is something you want, but it can also make you less eager to talk. Being active with your team while not muted is preferable to striving to be “less distracting” while muted.
5. Always improvising
Sometimes, people speak on the spot on zoom calls without any notes. This results in forgetting what you want to speak further resulting in awkwardness. It is advisable to prepare your remarks in advance. Not exactly, but in a list with bullets.
When you have to talk on a Zoom call, keep a tab open to look at for inspiration and to stay on topic. Additionally, this gets rid of any “uhms” and guesswork that can come off as unprofessional.
6. Not dressing smartly
Sweats and a t-shirt are currently in style. However, it can sometimes make you look inappropriate and unprofessional. However, Florida-based photographer, Larry Becker advises dressing strategically, repositioning your webcam for optimal views, and providing oneself with “soft, people-pleasing light.” Your confidence will soar when you notice that you look better.
Ways to feel less awkward on Zoom
1. Create a work environment
The location in which you decide to conduct your audio or video chat comes first. Take into account the lighting, comfort of your seat, and ambient noise.
Make sure your video or audio chat is not happening near any children or pets if you have any at home. For both yourself and your audience, a quiet environment is ideal.
Lighting is crucially important. Your best option is to sit in front of a window that lets in natural light. If not, gentle light coming from a lower angle is advised. Without any shadows or glare from the sun, you want your audience to be able to see all of you.
2. Minimize your mirror time
Consider making some configuration adjustments if you frequently feel self-conscious or anxious in virtual meetings. You might choose a view that minimises your own screen, making your reflection less noticeable to you, as opposed to choosing a view that includes both yourself and the people you’re speaking with.
“Hide Self View” is another option in Zoom. As a result, the interaction feels more authentic because you aren’t seeing your own face.
3. Use just audio
When it’s feasible, think about completely turning off your video. If seeing other people’s faces makes you more anxious, you may even dim their screens and conduct the conference as if it were a phone conversation.
Try to go audio-only in as many meetings as you can, even if it isn’t a possibility for every one of them. You can still feel less worn out and anxious by doing this.
4. Activate “speaker only”
It could be time to adjust your settings once more if staring at several faces (and pairs of eyes) makes it difficult to concentrate. Many virtual meeting platforms, including Zoom, have a feature that allows you to change your view to only the person who is currently speaking at any given time.
5. Move carefully
Another factor contributing to Zoom anxiety is the notion that you shouldn’t move around too much during the meeting because, when seen on screen, every movement can be more obvious.
However, it’s normal for people to stretch, reposition, or get up for a glass of water during phone calls and in-person meetings. It’s acceptable to approach the situation virtually with the same attitude and vigour.
You could, for instance, remind yourself to:
- If your arms or neck are feeling tight, stretch them
- Drink some coffee or water
- Inform your coworkers that you’re going to BRB (Be Right Back) to get a snack or beverage.
- To ground yourself, take a moment to feel the ground beneath your feet or alternately press them to the ground.
6. Superior apparatus
Spend money on a good headphone and, if possible, a separate webcam from the one that comes with your laptop. Laptops generally have terrible built-in microphones and webcams. It makes it challenging to comprehend.
Usually, it sounds unprofessional and if you are speaking underwater. Even the basic earbuds that come with most iPhones have far superior sound and microphone quality, and they also eliminate any chance of an echo effect coming from your speakers.
- Everyone enjoys receiving compliments, so start doing it right away. It can be as simple as pointing out a piece of jewellery they are wearing, their clothing, or perhaps a picture or design feature that is in the background of where they are.
- As you develop prospective connections and topics for future conversations, ask people what they like to do for pleasure.
- Asking about their toughest challenge demonstrates your genuine concern for their needs, your ability to go above and above, and your potential to one day find a solution to their issue. even if it has nothing to do with their project.
- Inquiring into their motivations will probably lead to their opening up and telling you a narrative, which will help you discover more about them.
Zoom anxiety and Zoom fatigue, or a significant sense of post-meeting exhaustion, are related. If virtual meetings leave you feeling both exhausted and anxious, the weariness may be accompanied by physical signs of anxiety or panic.
Zoom anxiety affects students in addition to making people tired in professional settings. In a survey of college students, 80% of the participants said they had more anxiety and difficulty concentrating in virtual classes.
The following are some physical signs of zoom anxiety:
- Higher heart rate
- Perspiration, breathing difficulty, and dizziness
- Tension in the stomach
Additional symptoms of zoom anxiety include:
- Tense and uncomfortable during discussions
- Being hesitant to speak up
- Feeling left out or frustrated
- Forgetful, as though you have stage fright
- Anxious or less productive before the meeting
Zoom and social anxiety
You can discover that attending virtual meetings makes your anxiety symptoms worse if you already suffer from an anxiety illness, especially social anxiety disorder.
As self-consciousness and social anxiety frequently go hand in hand, it may be particularly unsettling to watch yourself on a computer while in a meeting.
The following are potential symptoms of social anxiety:
- Fear the meeting or have problems concentrating on your work before it
- Anxiety about when to speak up (and how long to keep talking)
- Anxiety about not knowing where to look throughout the meeting
- Anxiety when it’s your turn to speak on stage
- Grave concerns about equipment failures at the meeting
- Trouble paying attention or losing your line of thinking as a result of feeling watched
- Fatigue on both the inside and outside, or confusion following the meeting
You might worry about being criticised, embarrassed, or rejected when interacting with people if you have social anxiety disorder. While further research is required to establish this, it may follow that some people’s anxiety may increase due to the sense of being watched that comes with huge virtual meetings.
Read this article more more useful insights: Why are virtual meetings harder than in person meetings?
“It’s not a matter of vanity – it’s a matter of showing respect for your conversation partner.”– Karin Reed
According to Karin Reed, former broadcast journalist turned executive coach and co-author of Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings, “You are considerably less likely to feel awkward on Zoom if you know you are showing up looking and sounding your best. It’s not about being conceited; it’s about respecting your conversation partner(s). It should be simple for them to understand your message. You won’t be able to converse clearly if your audio is shaky or you’re sitting in the dark.”
It can take some skill to conduct video calls elegantly. But there is also important science involved. The majority of us were forced into virtual meetings head-first with little guidance on how to conduct ourselves. You may use some of these best practises, though, to hone your Zoom image and boost your confidence.