Video Email Tip: Look into the Video Camera Lens

Last Updated March 25th, 2014

Seems obvious, right? If you’re going to try to connect with other people, you want to make eye contact.

If you’re connecting through video email – one of the best alternatives to actual face to face – you need to make that eye contact by looking into the video camera lens. This, too, seems obvious, but we see missed opportunities from time to time.

Looking at the lens is looking into your viewers’ eyes. Here are a few tips for making better eye contact when you’re using video email to be there in person when you can’t be there in person.

Video Email Tip: Look into the Lens

Why Eye Contact?

Particularly for one-to-one sends, video email is about being across the table with someone over coffee or lunch. It’s about being there in person when you can’t be there in person.

Just as you and I would make regular eye contact throughout a conversation across a table, you’ll want to make regular eye contact in your videos. You don’t have to stare the camera down. If you look off or look away for a few seconds at a time, perhaps to gather a thought, that’s natural. But we show interest and build trust through eye contact.

Through much of the video, then, you’ll want to look directly into the lens. It’s how we connect as fellow human and social beings.

Tip 1: Make Sure You Know Where the Lens Is

Again, obvious … but not always so obvious. If you’re using a camcorder or a DSLR, the lens is easy to see. With a smartphone or tablet, though, it’s not always as obvious. The quickest way to make sure you’re looking at the lens is to tap it with your finger (see video above) – you’ll be certain that that’s your lens as you cover it up.

In general, I recommend turning your mobile camera to front facing, so you can see yourself and make sure you like the shot. You may even want a small tripod so you can set it down.

With all the cameras mentioned above, it’s tempting to look at yourself in the viewfinder or screen when you’re shooting. Don’t do it. You won’t be looking at the lens – and, therefore, won’t be making enough eye contact.

Tip 2: Don’t Read a Script Off Your Screen

Another way people fail to make enough eye contact is by reading a pre-written script off their computer screen. I understand the temptation, but I can’t discourage you enough. Script reading reduces the efficacy of your video in two fundamental ways.

First, it truly feels like you’re reading. There’s less conviction in the delivery. It’s more robotic and less natural. You’re going through the motions, checking off boxes – and it shows.

Second, you’re not looking at the lens enough for the viewer to feel connected to you or to trust what you’re saying.

Instead of reading a script, you should internalize it. Read it. Capture its spirit and key points. Then, hit record and share it in a more natural and conversational way.

If a video gets a bit complicated with several points to hit, I’ll write an outline and put it just under the camera so I can occasionally look off to make sure I hit everything I want to cover.

12 Tips for Better Looking Videos

These tips came from a set of a dozen that we’ve delivered in a variety of ways.

To see a recent rundown of these 12 tips, click here.

Ethan Beute | About The Author

Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, host of The Customer Experience Podcast, and Wall Street Journal bestselling co-author of Human-Centered Communication and Rehumanize Your Business, Ethan Beute collects and tells stories of clearer communication, human connection, and higher conversion through simple, personal video messages. BA: University of Michigan. MBA: University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

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