I have this crazy idea for a science fiction movie… One day, in the not-so-distant future, society’s social norms evolve in response to some deadly threat that forces everyone to stay at home for the next fifty years. Nobody is allowed to be in the same room with someone else other than existing family, and so all human interaction is restricted to video and voice communication.
The story focuses on how humanity adapts and how two young people find each other, fall in love and start a life together… physically separated.
All right, maybe I’m taking things a little too far. (It’s just a first draft.) But you get where I’m going.
Zooming is Here to Stay
As we all know, our interactions have suddenly required the increased dependence on Zoom and other video conferencing apps due to COVID-19. And as this situation continues, social connections, both at work and elsewhere will begin and develop… only virtually.
Sure, previously there have been many opportunities to work and interact with people in other locations via webcam or phone. But in-person moments have usually been more typical.
Now, regardless of geographic proximity, we have all been instantly separated…. and tethered together by the thin digital strands of webcam communication.
And when we eventually return to some new normal, I expect that much of the Zoom revolution will remain intact and continue on. That means our future calendars will always include some number of webcam meetings, both for work and family life.
If that prospect feels exhausting, you might want to carefully consider your next steps.
Fight your Zoom Fatigue
I think it’s fair to say that few of us enjoy sitting in front of our computer’s webcam all day. It takes a clear effort to be present for all of those virtual meetings. But I would say it’s no harder than being fully engaged with a room of people. That takes focus too.
During an in-person meeting, people will read any number of non-verbal cues that you’re projecting. They will likely glean more from those elements than from your words.
The same is true for Zoom meetings. People typically want to feel some connection to you, and to do that, they really need to see you.
That’s why you can’t let Zoom fatigue prompt you to turn off your webcam or worse still… leave your camera on but pay no attention to how you’re coming across in your shot.
Don’t be a Distant Voice
Now, consider this same equation when interacting with people you’ve just met for the first time via Zoom. A disembodied voice can feel surreal and so far away. Staring at someone’s headshot is better, but video will always come closest to an in-person interaction.
I think a hidden voice isn’t so disconcerting if you’ve already met someone and have a baseline connection. But moving forward, we’re all going to have to deal with a variety of virtual introductions.
Our webcams are going to be representing us… pretty much forever.
Welcome to the Future
The pandemic will eventually end, but many of the disruptive ways we’re using to stay connected will remain as new norms.
This all points to my favorite phrase of late… “You’ve got to show up for your close up!”
So, remember my video production tips for your next Zoom meeting:
- Make sure you’re properly lit
- Go mobile to find a better location
- Create the right conditions for a good-looking virtual background
And most importantly, don’t forget to smile every so often. Your virtual audience will always appreciate your positive energy, especially in times like these.