Jelena Franco, April 20 2021

Look me in the eye when you say that!

Eye contact is a crucial form of body language during communication (just as long as you don't stare :-) When you look a person in the eyes it shows that you are paying attention and actually listening to what a person has to say.

Having spent many, many hours on Zoom over the last year or so, I think we have all found that maintaining eye contact has been challenging. And video meetings are definitely here to stay - we are all only 24" apart now. This happens due to a simple technical limitation: there is no way to put the camera and the display screen in the same spot. When you look at the camera on your device, you give the impression you're looking someone in the eye. However, when you look at their eyes on the screen, you appear to be looking away or down.

Now, have you ever wondered how television reporters deliver information seamlessly on camera? It's all thanks to the teleprompter and a few other tech tips that I suggest you use also for your home office. And you can do it for less than $1000.

Here is an example of a home office setup (proposed by Seth Godin in a recent Seth's Blog):

And here's how to do it in 2 steps; the first step is just good practice and relevant no matter what your arrangement. The second step requires investment and will help you look good as you get your point across.

Easy tips & low to no investment:
1. Hide self-view in Zoom; it takes away the distraction.
2. Rearrange your workspace so the light doesn't come from behind you. Face the natural light if you can.
3. Get some LED lights (they are cheap) and set them up on both sides of your screen pointing towards you.

Higher investment & more return:
1. Get an external DSLR camera or other high quality camera (such as the Logitech StreamCam) and hook it up to your Mac or PC
2. Tripod for the camera.
3. Capture box or other adapter for the camera
4. Beam Splitter and monitor to fit with it

The entire setup (all of the things listed) cost less than $1,000.

The setup:
The camera goes on a tripod and sits just above and slightly behind your computer screen. The HDMI/USB output goes to your capture box (if needed) and then into your computer. In Zoom, change the camera from your 'Computer' to the camera. Done. Now, the biggest revelation and a solution to an eye-contact issue... the beam splitter. These are used for teleprompters. It’s a piece of fancy glass, at an angle, on top of a monitor or screen. Behind the glass is the camera. You can look directly at the glass, and the camera behind it, and the person that you're talking to will feel that you are looking them in the eyes. Amazing, isn't it?

I can't guarantee a ten times improvement in the outcomes from your video calls but you will certainly command attention and increase engagement. And at $1000 can you afford not to?

Once you have set it up - send me a sample video:)

Written by

Jelena Franco


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