Salespeople and customers alike have quickly risen to the challenge of connecting in a virtual world. But now that customers are being bombarded with Zoom calls both internally and externally, they, like many of us, are experiencing Zoom Gloom*. Zoom Gloom is an unforeseen side effect from being on video call, after video call, after video call – all with an overwhelming sense of sameness.
Symptoms of Zoom Gloom include:
It may seem physically easier to meet on video, but in reality our brains are working extra hard to process this new environment. A video call eliminates our ability to intuitively pick up on dozens of non-verbal cues that help us process a conversation. When we can’t see a person’s hands, or gestures, or if the quality is poor, even read facial expressions, our brain struggles to fill in the gaps. The result: we wear out quicker.
2. Strain from always being “ON.”
Unlike during an in-person meeting where you have a larger shared environment which allows for some private moments when you know you’re not being looked at, there are no such breaks on video. Like a performer, you are always on-camera. This knowledge creates a heightened self-awareness that inhibits your ability to “be natural” on camera.
3. Uncomfortable eye contact.
As humans we are not used to maintaining such constant direct eye contact with another human being that we are not in an intimate relationship with. It can feel awkward and inappropriately intimate to lock eyes with people we don’t know well, especially on longer calls. Alternately, customers can feel disengaged if you’re not making eye contact at all or doing it poorly.
4. Constant self-evaluation.
To suddenly see yourself as others do is something actors are familiar with, but most business people are not. We’ve all remained blissfully unaware of that funny thing we do with our eyes, or the distracting way we move our head. It is not a small thing to come face to face with the you others see. But the constant checking of your image to see how you look and then adjusting and re-checking takes you out of the moment and creates a certain level of artificiality that reads as disingenuous with customers.
How to Break Through Zoom Gloom with customers
Turning your camera on is just table stakes at this point. If you don’t find ways to breakthrough Zoom Gloom the next symptom may be customers avoiding your video calls entirely. Here are a few things you can do to breakthrough Zoom Gloom and make sure your video call is the one customers look forward to and remember at the end of the day.
1..Stop practicing on your customers.
Recognize that being “on-camera” requires a different skill set. Learn that skill set and practice it so you can be natural and free to focus on your customer on the call. You can start by getting the Free Selling On-Camera Cheat Sheet below:
2. Use appropriate eye contact.
Understand what appropriate eye contact on-camera is and how to use it well. For a quick tutorial, watch this 2 minute Video on how to make eye contact on-camera.
3. Break it up.
Everyone needs a much-needed break from staring directly into each other’s eyes, especially on longer calls. Re-focus attention throughout your call by sharing a slide, a picture, a poll, or even a prop.
4. Hide your video image.
Leave your camera on, but hide the video image from yourself. This will help you avoid the temptation to constantly check how you appear to others. There’s definitely a time to work on your on-camera presence, but it is NOT while you are on a call with a customer. Learn the technique and practice it before your call so you can be 100% focused on your customer.
5. Bring energy.
Don’t pass on your own Zoom Gloom to your customer. Your energy is already at risk of being low because you are seated, at home (perhaps in your comfy chair!) You need to fight that by energizing before each call. Do a quick warm-up, jog in place, whatever you need to do to get your energy up.
*In fairness to Zoom (which is my platform of choice btw) Zoom Gloom can occur on any type of video conferencing platform. The term “Zoom Gloom” is just irresistibly sticky.
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