Overcoming your Fear of Video

With more and more people working remotely, video calls have become a lifeline. They allow colleagues and clients to communicate like they’re actually in the room with one-another, eliminating the location barrier and providing the perfect environment for group conversations.

Unfortunately, not everyone is completely at ease with the video call revolution. Some people simply can’t get used to the video calling experience, no matter how hard they try.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Whatever issues you’re having, there are strategies you can employ to overcome your bugbears and make the most of this invaluable tool.

Read on as we dig a little deeper…

I can get by without video calling…

You can try, but when your colleagues, clients and competitors are all using video calls, you’re bound to be left behind. It’s worth considering the value of video calling for you and your team. In other words, why should you get over your bugbears rather than simply avoiding video calls?

There are actually a long list of answers…

  • Engagement – Having participants visible to one another makes everyone less likely to zone out, which makes them more engaged with the discussion. The ability to continually check in with each other also makes everyone more engaged in the long run, which could improve staff retention.
  • Efficiency – Video calls put everyone in one place at one time, eliminating the need to go back and forth between different parties, as well as cutting out the commute of traditional face-to-face meetings when things are ‘back to normal’.
  • Costs – On top of saving time, video calls save money on fuel, rail or air fares and the paid time companies lose out on when employees are in transit.
  • Practicality – Video calls aren’t just for remote workers. They’re also vital for businesses with staff in different countries. With a video call, you can hold a meeting with various teams that simply wouldn’t be practical in person.
  • Morale – When you’re working remotely, it’s so important for your mental health to see other people. Video calls allow you to do this, mirroring the face-to-face discussion that you’d get in the office. Beyond functional work-based calls, they can be used for weekly catch ups, coffee breaks and even social events like virtual Christmas parties.
  • Productivity – With the ability to talk things through, share screens and collaborate as a group, there’s no denying that video calls make teams far more productive.

As you can see, the benefits of video calls are impressive, so what’s stopping you?

Common video call bugbears

Despite all of the benefits, there’s no avoiding the issues many people encounter when they’re on video calls. And that’s understandable. Everybody is different, all with their own preferred communication style – whether that’s emails, instant messaging or face-to-face meetings.

For some, it’s down to anxiety. If you already struggle with social situations, a video call which mimics that face-to-face environment will no doubt pose its own issues. That’s especially true if you’re not used to it, with everything from the first greeting and small talk to the awkward silences causing you to overthink.

Others simply can’t stop looking at themselves. Don’t worry – you’re not being vein. With a thumbnail view of yourself in the corner of the screen, it can seem impossible not to glance at what’s on show. That can lead to increased self-awareness, and have you questioning your every move. Why am I doing that face? What should I do with my hands? Is that REALLY what I look like?

Or maybe you just can’t be bothered making yourself video-call-ready. One of the many perks of remote working is that you don’t need to doll yourself up quite as much as you would in the office. That means a wave goodbye to shirts and ties, or even the hairbrush, until you’ve got a video call coming up.

How to make video calls better

The most important thing to note is that all of the concerns expressed above are completely natural. You’ll probably find that many of the other people on your call are going through the same. Crucially, there are several things you can do to overcome these issues…

1.    Practice makes perfect

One of the easiest ways to overcome video call anxiety is simply by making more video calls. In many cases, anxiety arises from unfamiliarity – that feeling of uncertainty about how it’s going to go or what people are going to say. It’s a bit like the nerves you get the first few times you drive a car after passing your test. The more you participate in video calls, the more it will become natural.

However, there are also some more specific tips to take on board which could make video calls easier and more enjoyable…

2.    Take breaks between calls

Even for those who love video calls, the constant attention – both on you and required from you – can feel taxing. That’s why it’s best to avoid taking calls one after the other.

Where possible, try to schedule calls so they’re mixed in with your other day-to-day duties.

3.    Add screen breaks

Even if you don’t have consecutive calls lined up, it’s important to take screen breaks before and after video calls. Approximately 5 minutes every hour is recommended, with screen breaks reducing the strain on your eyes. They’re naturally occurring in most roles, whether it’s scanning, printing, reading through notes or just making a coffee.

But with video calls, it’s easy to forget. You could go from a call to a screen-based task, back to a call, and before you know it, you’ve been staring at the screen for 3 hours. This could leave you with sore eyes and a headache, which will no doubt make video calls off-putting.

4.    Establish some ground rules

Some video calls are awkward. There, we said it. But it’s not down to the medium of communication itself. Instead, it’s due to a lack of organisation. Video calls work best when there are a few rules to help things run smoothly.

One of the most useful practices is muting microphones when someone is talking. This can reduce the stop-start nature of conversations, where the speaker feels interrupted. If you’re leading the call, make sure you include pauses where people can ask any questions or add their input.

5.    Use break-out groups

With Microsoft Teams now allowing up to 49 participants on a video call, you can have more people than ever collaborating on the same project. However, this can soon become a bit too much if it’s not managed properly.

This is where break-out groups can be very useful. Setting tasks or discussion points and splitting the call into smaller teams will make everyone more comfortable to get involved.

6.    Provide training

Another factor in video call anxiety can be the uncertainty around how things work. In most cases, you’ll only realise you’re in trouble when you’re on the call – and there’s nothing worse than searching for the mute or screen share button when everyone is watching and waiting.

As a manager or team leader, it’s important to note that not everyone will be equally familiar with Zoom, Teams or other platforms. Some simple training, before staff are asked to take part in calls, can be a huge step in improving the video calls for everyone.

7.    Upgrade technology

When it comes to technology, the ultimate video calling experience depends on three factors – broadband speed, sound quality and image quality.

If other participants are struggling to hear you, your face is badly pixelated or there’s a constant break-up in your connection, it can put a downer on the whole call. That’s exactly why team leaders and managers should ensure all staff have the right equipment for high quality video calls.

8.    And finally… Always get dressed

As mentioned earlier, one of the most common issues with video calling is the need to look work appropriate. You don’t want to – and definitely shouldn’t – take calls in your loungewear or pyjamas. But equally, it can add to the pressure of a video call if you’re getting dressed and doing your hair just to have a conversation with colleagues or clients.

The solution? Get dressed for every working day. While it might seem easier and more comfortable to wear something snug, getting dressed and ready can have a significant impact on how productive and happy you are at work.

It will separate your work and home life too, with the option to change into something more comfortable when you’ve finished for the day. But most relevant to video calls, it will reduce the rigmarole and build up to your calls, making them a much more natural part of your working day.

This doesn’t have to mean suiting up at the start of every working day. A shirt, blouse or smart jumper will do the trick, making sure your bed head is neat enough to go unnoticed. Remember, you can always pair your smart-casual look with some slippers for a bit of extra comfort that nobody has to see.

Empower your business with video calling

At Aura, we understand the value that video calling can add to national and multi-national organisations. As global communication specialists, we can help you overcome your challenges and optimise collaboration for your staff – wherever they’re based.

With a direct presence in over 120 countries and a wide-ranging Solutions Hub, we make it easy to combine Microsoft Teams with existing technology for truly seamless communication and collaboration across the globe.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you work from anywhere, contact a member of the Aura team today.

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