Heather Hansen

Video Calls Scare You

Why video calls scare you and what to do about it

Do you know why video calls scare you? It isn’t just because you have to comb your hair, or you don’t want anyone to see that you aren’t wearing pants. The reason that video calls scare you involves your lizard brain, the part of your brain that is concerned with fight or flight. It wants you to survive, and it is always looking, feeling, smelling, listening and tasting for danger. And video calls make it nervous.

During a video call, many of your senses are useless. You can’t feel, smell, or taste the person on the other end of the call. And many neuroscientists believe that we have more than 5 senses. There are things like proprioception, which is the ability to sense another’s location relative to yours. There’s themoception, which is the ability to feel the heat coming off of another body. These are lost on video as well.

Most of your body’s senses don’t work on video. That means your lizard brain doesn’t know how close the person on the other end of that camera is. And that makes it nervous. So if video calls scare you, they scare others as well.

In my book, The Elegant Warrior-How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself, I talk about how we must quiet our own lizard brains in order to succeed. That advice will work here too. But if you want to win your next video call, you want the people on the other end of the call (your “jury”) to like and believe you. So you must quiet the others’ lizard brains as well.

There are ways to do so. In my work helping people advocate for themselves over video we use my FOCUS Process. The S is “sharpen your presence”. Your body language (and tone, facial expressions and energy) can help you to make the person on the other end of the call feel safe. I share many ways to do this with my clients and I’ll share one with you.

Use your hands.

When people can’t see your hands, their lizard brains see you as a threat. You might be holding a weapon. So show them your hands and the threat decreases. In real life, that means using your hand motions often and well. On video, it means the same thing. But it also means that you must be sure that your shot is wide enough that people can see your hands. If your camera is too close to your face, they can’t see your hands. But if it’s too far away, you can’t make a connection. So find that sweet spot.

Find the spot where the camera has your face and your hands in the frame. This may mean piling your computer on books or a dresser, like I do. Then use your hands to explain your points. Often, that’s easier when you’re standing up. Play with it, and check yourself out before the call. This small investment in time can have huge returns.

There are other ways to overcome the lizard brain. If you want more help, send me an email at heather@advocatetowin.com or sign up for my email list here. But remember–there is a good reason that video calls scare you. And there are good ways to beat the fear.

Heather Hansen

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