A Psychologist’s 4 Tips for Great First Impressions in Video Calls

Body language is at least just as important in video calls as it is in real life. Psychologists have studied this for years. Let’s see what they say about video calls.

BACKGROUND


Let’s start with the obvious one. Make sure to have a tidy background. For professional settings, we do not recommend virtual backgrounds as some people might find them distracting, gimmicky or insincere. A virtual background might be a great icebreaker in a less formal situation. Or, it could be very distracting.

CONNECTION

Network lags could make large movements look weird. So always keep in mind whether you have a good connection. The worse the connection, the weirder large movements will look, so try keeping still and focus more on the audio. At Knit – The Group Video Call, we prioritise frame rate and audio over everything else to minimize this weirdness.

POSTURE

Posture is at least as relevant in video calls as in real life. Just as in real life, having an open body posture shows confidence and openness. A forward-leaning position shows interest, but when kept all the time it can be intimidating. For laptop users, it’s important not to hunch, because it gives the appearance of being sleepy.

If you want to learn more about how far your camera should be from you and how to position your body, make sure to read our article “Video calls can be from too far away – But it’s not what you think”.

GAZE

Two people’s gazes meeting in a crowded room is a cliche of romantic films. However, eye contact is also a staple of everyday conversation. When people look away, we think they are dishonest or shy (in Western cultures at least). Too much eye contact can be intimidating though.

Most importantly, eye contact is a key way of signalling that we are listening. Remember to smile or nod to show agreement. Avoid confirming by speaking, because in video calls this is more disruptive than in real life.

The weird part about video calls is that your camera is not where the other person’s eyes are. It’s best to place your camera such that it’s as close as possible to the screen with your call’s window. It’s also a good idea to switch off your self-view entirely. This way, you will not constantly look at yourself and you’ll be more receptive to your audience.

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