Worldwide 1. study surveys eye contact in different settings
Direct gaze generates always the highest emotional response – in personal meetings as well as in online telcos even more than via videos or in webinars. SCR (Skin Conductance Response) and facial muscle activity were measured – both crucial parameters for determining emotional reactions. These results can be taken as evidence that regardless whether you communicate in person or by any video online tool, there will be significant emotional impact. Regarding the difference to the data of one-way-media the researchers explain: To be seen or be observed, leads to more emotional arousal, whether it is stress or joy, in contrast to moments with presenters of videos or webinars on our screens where we know that we cannot be seen or observed.
The Finnish authors describe their paper as the worldwide 1. Study of eye contact in different settings.
„Psychophysiological responses to eye contact in a live interaction and in video call“, Hietanen/Peltola/Hietanen, in: Psychophysiology, April, 22nd, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13587.
From the practice:
Where do you look at when talking to people? Into their eyes or somewhere left, right or behind them, into the camera or onto the notes you have prepared? The correct answer is: whenever you want to score emotionally – negatively or positively – you should directly look into your interlocutor´s eyes. There is no too much here! Only a too little! Please rearrange in these Corona times your screen so that you can look into the camera easily. Two additional recos: 1. In Telcos please have a look from time to time still onto your interlocutor if you don´t want to miss important signals of body language. 2. In videos and in webinars please be in the picture instead of your ppt: in the beginning, at the end and when you are delivering your key messages. Otherwise people cannot see your eyes well enough in these emotionally decisive moments.
The worst you can do is to look frequently onto your notes. We are – again as so often – ending up finally with professional preparation…….