Whether it’s for work or keeping up with friends, video calls are now a huge part of our new normal. While many of us have dealt with the transition to video-based communications rather well, there are still plenty of people out there with genuine video call anxiety.
Dubbed ‘video call anxiety’, the issue shows that many people feel that the lack of visual cues and body language interaction results in unease during video calls. Of course, there’s also your very own image shining back at you while you attempt to chat with colleagues.
If you struggle with video call anxiety, this article is for you. Have a read and, before long, you’ll be confronting your webcam-based fears in no time.
Why exactly do we feel video call anxiety?
COVID-19 has thrown a whole new set of worries our way, and video calls are definitely up there. While it’s not related to infection rates or a struggling economy, video call anxiety is still a valid concern because it might be something you face every single day.
So, why exactly do we feel video call anxiety? Where does it come from? Let’s start with the more obvious causes, like technological glitches. In real-time face-to-face conversations, you don’t worry about your Wi-Fi connection or leaving your mute button on. Your screen won’t freeze and you shouldn’t have any sound issues. But during video calls, all of these elements can put you on edge, or come between you and your communications.
Technical stuff aside, video call anxiety is also rooted in the idea that we’re having to carve out a whole new form of communication when we were pretty used to the one we had. Despite the technology, video calls aren’t a replacement for actual face-to-face talking and so trying to go about our day using a new form of communication can feel unusual.
Video call fatigue, along with video call anxiety, is a very real thing. If you would describe yourself as even the least bit socially anxious before COVID-19, it’s understandable that our new situation could have presented you with a challenge.
Our tips for overcoming video call anxiety
That being said, it’s a challenge that you can certainly overcome. All it takes is the right kind of thinking, some reinforcement and plenty of practice.
Here are some tips for dealing with video call anxiety.
1. Preparation makes perfect
If you have a work-based video call coming up, it helps to simply prepare some things to say. If, for example, you have a new client, have a think of questions you would like to ask and keep them on hand. By preparing some talking points, it will feel less intimidating because you already know what you’re going to say.
Write your talking points on a notepad and have it next to you when you’re on the call.
2. Remember to breathe, and relax in the face of video call anxiety
With video calls, there’s often an absurd sense of performance. Watching yourself converse with colleagues or friends can be very surreal.
Take some deep breaths and settle your mind. Speak slowly if you need to, try not to get flustered, and give yourself a break. Being hard on yourself won’t help – like we said, you’re dealing with a new form of communication here! It’s not easy.
3. Don’t let technical issues put you off
Everyone has them! Try testing your computer before the video call begins. That way you can get ahead of any slow Wi-Fi or background noise. If something does happen when you’re on the call, don’t sweat it. Apologise, and simply carry on.
4. Get yourself ready as if you’re in the office
If you know you have a video call that day, you should get ready in the morning as you would if you were in the office. Routine is important for creating even a semblance of normality, which may help put you at ease. You’ll feel professional and prepared – a whole world better than if you simply woke up, made coffee and jumped on the call.
It’s one of life’s most important skills. Active listening shows whoever you’re talking to that you value their input and will take the heat off you a little bit. It helps keep you present and in the moment, rather than getting flustered and tripping up over your words (we’ve all been there).
6. Distract yourself after the call to avoid video call anxiety
It’s easy to ruminate after a video call. Questions like “should I have said that?” will pop up, and before you know it you’re spiralling. Get ahead of this by doing something else after your call. Dive into a different piece of work (maybe for a different client), put some music on, or prepare some lunch. Whatever it is, when the call is done it doesn’t help to think about it too much. Once you’ve sorted the action points, you should focus on something else.
7. Make sure that you’re given notice
This shouldn’t be a problem as most calls will be scheduled beforehand. If, however, this isn’t the case then you should let your employer know that you would like a little more notice so that you can prepare. It shouldn’t be an issue.
8. Ask to postpone if you’re not ready
In the scenario that a last minute video call comes up and you’re not prepared, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be postponed. A good employer will listen to you and should agree to postpone it for you, even if it’s by half an hour or so. Knowing that you’re not prepared, and asking for it to be postponed, is a fantastic bit of self-care where video calls are concerned.
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