It’s always important to establish eye contact with your audience if you want to create a strong connection. The same is especially true when talking via Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. And the only way to do that is to stare directly at your little webcam. That can be difficult when you’re also trying to pay attention to all of those little boxes of faces on your screen.
There’s also the reality that many of us have had to Frankenstein together more advanced work stations at home with multiple monitors, creating even more eyeline complexities.
In short, a lot of people aren’t following the best practice of looking directly at their webcams these days. If you’re even close, I think most folks on the receiving end are relatively forgiving.
Now, I’m not saying that’s okay. I’m saying that’s what I’ve seen happening. And because it’s generally become acceptable to look slightly off camera while Zooming, there’s a huge opportunity to exploit in that little space between where you should look and where your eyes are likely focusing .
Create your own Teleprompter
If you’re presenting to your Zoom audience, and you’ve got notes or perhaps a full script to read, you should position them on your screen right under your webcam to reduce the effect that you’re reading. A physical page of notes taped under your webcam can work, but I’m not talking about an analog solution. Move that Microsoft Word window up. Keep it all digital.
The closer you can get your Word doc to your webcam the better. It’s like activating your own little teleprompter. The result will be remarkably close to the appearance that you’re effortlessly talking to your audience and not reading your script. And because your audience has been conditioned to seeing others look off screen, they likely won’t notice your visual trick.
Don’t Let your Eyes Ruin your Illusion
That said, they will see you reading your notes if your Word window is still at its normal width. Your eyes will clearly be moving left to right and from line to line. (Then, the jig will be up!)
You need to make your Word window thinner… only 8-10 words across to correct the problem.
But then how are you supposed to see a complete line of your script if only part of it is now visible?
Here’s the fix:
Use Web Layout
Change the view in Word from Print Layout to Web Layout.
Once you do that, you can shrink the width of your page, and the text will automatically wrap to fit your thinner Word window.
Then, all you need to do is scroll down the page using your mouse or trackpad as you’re reading.
Congratulations, you’ve effectively created your personal teleprompter!
How to Adjust the Default Settings
Here are the easy steps to make the change to your Word doc:
Another Tool for your Virtual World
Living life on Zoom during these many pandemic months has been draining for all of us. Reformatting Microsoft Word to serve as your pseudo-teleprompter is one way to make your Zoom presentations a lot easier.