Body Language in times of Zoom

Lucy Stepanyan
5 min readSep 11, 2020

In the COVID-19 reality, the phenomenon of “zoom fatigue” has become an integral part of our daily lives. The cause of this distress is attributed to the weird echoing, lags in connectivity, screen freezes, and other technical issues that deteriorate the quality of the sound and picture (Jiang, 2020). In addition, virtual meetings reduce our superpower of reading the subtle body language cues of the people in the meeting. This forces us to concentrate more only to perceive less information than we would in the case of live interactions. According to Dr. Mehrabian, university professor at UCLA, 55% of the message pertaining to feelings and or emotions is attributed to body language, specifically to facial expressions (Mehrabian, 1981).

Holding an online meeting reduces our chances of perceiving the micro-expressions and the full range of gestures, posture, movements, which in turn makes it more difficult for us to get the full picture of what the person intended to convey with their message, it also becomes harder for the speaker to get the message across.

This article contains a set of tips to improve our communication during the video calls and reduce the misunderstandings that might occur in the virtual meetings.

The Setting

Start by optimizing your settings.

  • Good Lighting is Key! Make sure that the room is well-lit. Avoid having light behind you as you will be only seen as a silhouette. The light should be warm and it should be placed next to you. You could also sit in front of a window as natural light is always flattering.
  • Keep your Background clean and neat! Avoid “Flashy” digital backgrounds. It’s distracting, and when you move the picture becomes distorted. The best thing is to have a plain, white background without too many objects.
  • Distance yourself from the camera! When you are too close, the camera widens the face and it does not look all that flattering!
Lucy Stepanyan

Founder @SourceStack, International Development specialist, “Tech for Good” enthusiast, Trainer, Writer, Business Owner.