On-camera time can be extra tough for introverts, even those who don’t think of themselves as being afraid to be on camera. Talking to people on camera can feel very different from face-to-face, which can make it more draining and more stressful. To make things more difficult, work that requires on-camera time is often done by extroverts, so people who find being social less “natural” may already be working extra hard to maintain their social batteries. Here are three tips that will help anyone improve their on-camera performance, but are especially designed for introverts.
Don’t Forget About Eye Contact
While most people find eye contact necessary to feel that they are being authentically engaged and listened to, it can be particularly draining for introverts. This is one situation where being on camera can be a benefit for an introvert, because to give the sense of eye contact, you actually don’t want to be looking at the speaker’s eyes. Instead, look directly at the camera, which will give your counterpart the sense that you are looking them in the eye. This can be difficult to remember, so getting something like brightly colored sticky notes or even a little “frame” to go around your camera lens will help draw your eye there.
This can be tricky for some people because you may be accustomed to getting social cues from facial expressions. Just remember that you don’t need to maintain unbroken eye contact—feel free to look at faces, but try to center your focus on the camera lens.
Find a Dedicated On-Camera Zone with Limited Tech
A common introvert response to feeling socially overwhelmed is to withdraw a little bit for recovery. While stepping away to take a breath works fine at a larger event, when at the computer, it can be easy to find yourself reaching for your emails or looking at your phone while the other person is talking. There are a couple tips to avoid this. First off, try to take meetings and interviews in a separate space from your main office. You are preconditioned to do things like look at email (and in many cases be quiet) at your desk, so when you are under stress, you may default to those learned actions. By instead creating a space specifically for on-camera activities, you will be primed for social activities when you sit or stand there. (As a bonus: if you have a messy office area, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up before meetings!)
The second step to this is limiting your tech prior to on-camera activity: leave your phone at your desk, log out of your email, and mute all notifications from things like chat.
Consider Standing Up
If you get really nervous and fidgety, this can backfire, but for many people, standing up puts you in “talking” mode in a way that being seated doesn’t. If you can set up your new space at a height where you are standing, you may find yourself with a boost of confidence. It makes it easier to be open and maintain good posture, which shows your counterpart (and signals to yourself) that you are confident.
Lots of camera time can be exhausting for introverts, but that’s no reason not to take your on-camera skills seriously! With a few changes to your routine and office setup, you can stand out on camera and save your social batteries while you’re at it! Do you have any other tips for next-level on camera presence for introverts? Share in the comments!