Seeing Yourself on Zoom Calls

Once a colleague and I were on a video call. We were in a conference room and a client was on the screen. I started noticing strange behavior from my colleague: Unnatural tilting of the head, posing almost, chair swiveling and theatrical pen chewing. The words that came to mind were “coquette” and “modeling.” I then realized they were distracted by the view of themselves on screen. Seeing yourself while you are talking to another is simply not normal. It’s distracting. It’s like talking to someone with a mirror right behind them. An out-of-body experience. It can make us very self-conscious. I know it makes me feel uncomfortable and distracted. And adds to the things I need to focus on in the constant zoom meetings we all now attend.

I do two things which have helped me get by. I hide my self view on my computer and if I am on my phone I simply put my thumb over my image. Now I can focus on the speaker without worrying about my hair. Also, in large meetings, I use mostly speaker view so that my entire screen is taken by the person talking. I am making a connection to that person by connecting them to what they are saying. I feel less tired. I only have one person to focus on and that person is not me. And isn’t that the way to have a real conversation?