This is Video Tip #2 that will address how to look better when you are on camera by understanding where to place your eyes and your head for maximum impact and connection with the audiences you are talking to when on video.
Let’s get started.
Here is my video explaining everything. Just press the play button here.
If you are more of a reader, there is a blog post below that. You get to choose!
The following is a rewritten transcript of the video, which I edited to make it a bit more readable for you.
Where Should You Place Your Head?
Let’s get started with where you should place your head. This also goes for when you are taking still photos, but particularly on video, which is what we’re talking about today. You want your head with only a little bit of space between your head and the top of the frame. You can see what that looks like in the video I have prepared.
When your head and face are further down in the frame, or when you slouch, look at what happens. If you are lower in the frame, you don’t look right. Your presence looks minimized, and you can come across as too casual, less confident, and slouchy. (Is slouchy even a word?)
But when you sit up and fill the frame, which is what we call it, you will have presence. Having your body upright and at the top of the camera is the best placement for your head. It’s just a good look. It’s a better look. For maximum impact, that is where you want to place your head.
Let’s take a look at camera placement. Most cameras can be adjusted. Mine has a little feature where you can just bend it back and forth. That’s nothing special with my camera. Many external webcams are built this way.
If you have your camera stuck in the fold of your laptop, which is very common these days because they want to make the monitors thin, you will want to lift it up on a box or two so that you are eye level with that camera.
You want your head toward the top, but you don’t want your head at the top but looking down at your camera. That’s not a polished, professional look. Even if your head is at the top, but you’re looking down in the fold of your laptop while trying to connect with others, you can do better by improving the height of your laptop and camera. Again, this is for maximum impact and connection with the people you’re talking to, let’s keep your head up and at the top of the frame, and your camera at eye-level.
Where Should I Be Looking?
Where should you look when you are on video? This can be difficult because when we are in meetings with other people, we want to look at them. Our tendency on all meeting and webinar platforms is to look at ourselves on the screen, or at others in nearby squares. It’s natural.
Here’s my advice for you. It depends on what is going on at that particular moment, but, because I’ve done this so much, it has become a habit for me to look into my lens when I am on camera, and particularly when I’m talking. That is what I would like for you to do, too.
Every time you are talking, you want to make sure you look in the lens, which is what I’m doing in the video that you see on this page.
Why is that important? To best answer that, think about what or who is on the other side of that lens.
Yes, exactly, there are people on the other side of that lens!
Look Into Their Eyes
When I am on camera, I know that you are there, and I want to look into your eyes. I want to have a conversation with you.
I want you to have a conversation directly with those other people who are observing you. When it is your turn to talk, if you are doing what I demonstrate in the video, looking all over your screen at everybody else, depending on how wide your monitor is, and mine is very wide, you will look like you are constantly face-surfing, or trying to look at other faces.
That is not the best practice for maximum connection with the people you are talking to, so when it is your turn to talk, definitely look into your lens. If you need a little help, put a sticky note and an arrow by your lens.
I use one of those little, round, fluorescent-colored Avery reinforcement stickers. I have a bright yellow one at the moment. It is always my reminder that is where the lens is on my Logitech Brio, which is my window to the eyes of the other people in my meeting or webinar.
When it is your turn to talk, definitely look at the camera.
Where Do I Look When Others Are Talking?
If you have said something and someone else is replying to you, or if the discussion involves you, keep looking at the camera.
Why is this important?
Because you are still in conversation with that person, aren’t you, which is why I want you to maintain eye contact. You can still hear that person talk without looking directly at them.
But Not Always
Sometimes the conversation is just a free for all. Everybody is talking. There is a lot going on. At those times, it is much harder to maintain and freeze a look on your camera for the next 30 to 60 minutes, so don’t put the pressure on yourself to have to do that.
In those moments, and in all moments, what helps minimize your eye and head movement is to position Zoom or your webinar window in such a way that you are able to place it right below your lens. In the video on this page, I have positioned my recording software directly below my camera.
If you are on Zoom or in a webinar where you can see others, try not to let your eyes dart back and forth like I demonstrate in the video.
You Are Always On Stage
Remember that you are always on stage. It is your job to look professional when you know there are people watching and evaluating you.
When you are on stage, whether that is in an auditorium, a conference room, or your home office, you are still being evaluated. Keep eye contact as much as you can because you are always being judged by someone, if not some people. I know that’s a lot of pressure, but I have faith in you!
Another reason this is important is to think about what happens when someone is presenting from the stage. Pretend that is you. When you are on an in-person stage, what do you do when you are looking out at the audience?
Who do you look for?
You look for people who are looking at you and who are somewhat in agreement with what you are saying. You look for those who are paying attention, whose body language communicates interest, and who might be nodding. Not nodding off, but nodding in agreement.
It is the same when you are on camera and somebody else is talking. When it is someone else’s turn to talk, what do you think is going to happen? Well, because others are not as informed as you are about looking at the camera, they are looking around at the different people who are in your Zoom room.
Just as they do in-person, they are going to focus on the people who are looking at them and seem to be in agreement with what’s going on. So that means you should always have your camera turned on, and you should genuinely try to make eye contact so the presenter sees you looking at them.
The Gift Of Eye Contact
Now, does looking at the presenter via your lens feel artificial? It doesn’t to me, but that is because I’ve been doing this for a long time and it comes naturally to me. It has become a daily habit. I can still see those people out of the corner of my eye. I can still hear everything they are saying, but I am taking a little extra time to pay attention to them by giving them the gift of my eye contact.
Those are my two tips for you today, which are best practices for head and eye placement for maximum impact and connection with your audiences.
If you haven’t watched the video above where I demonstrate everything I have written about here, please do.