I’ve spent the past two years of working at home, perfecting what it means to be in front of a webcam.
One of the most impactful skills I’ve learned is to look right into the webcam when I’m talking, coaching, or teaching. It wasn’t easy to learn this skill when I wanted to look at other people.
The benefit of looking at the camera is that people feel like I’m making eye contact with them.
While I believe that eye contact enhances the connection, I wonder if this focus on making a connection is limiting during some activities.
Last week I read a study, in which a group of researchers studied the impact of the webcam on brainstorming.
They found that when our eyes fixate on the screen, our creativity drops. This means that while brainstorming, people produce fewer and less creative ideas.
People with their webcam turned off or, better yet, in the room together generated more ideas and were more creative.
Turning the webcam off means people are more likely to look around rather than be too fixated on the screen. And people might even get up and move around the room.
In hindsight, The idea of turning off the webcam to stimulate creativity seems obvious to me.
While coaching people, I will sometimes ask them to look around or to get up and move. I do this when they’re stuck and unsure what to do next.
The result is always the same – they come up with an idea.
From now on, I’ll continue to ask people to turn on their cameras to create a connection.
However, in times that call for creativity, I’ll do something unusual for me.
I will ask the group to turn off their webcams and feel free to get up and move.
After all, it’s what I’m going to do myself.
You’ve got this.