Top Video Hack – Hiding Your Self-View

In a recent workshop I led focused on Executive Virtual Presence, a participant brought up one of my favorite questions: 

“What is your opinion on hiding your self-view during video calls? Should we do it, or not?”

✨ My answer, unequivocally. YES. DO hide your self-view.

And here’s why: 

We are not accustomed to seeing a real-time feedback display of what we look like in a conversation. The effort it takes us to not look at ourselves when we are so obviously and dynamically displayed is a losing battle.

If someone were to hold up a mirror in an in-person conversation, we would spend a significant percentage of the time looking at ourselves there too…or at least, spending a ton of mental energy trying not to.

Having the self-view enabled can feel comforting, ‘at least now I can catch myself in the act of doing something silly or embarrassing’. But that’s simply not the case. 

Even with self-view enabled, we quickly become accustomed to how we look, and most of the time, we don’t have the self-awareness to pick out how we might show up and communicate more effectively.

Here are a few other reasons to hide your self-view during video calls:

💪 Increase connection: You can focus 100% of your mental energy and concentration on the non-verbals of others on the call. Those you are trying to really connect with.

💪 Reduce Zoom fatigue: Research shows time and time again that having self-view enabled increases the feelings of exhaustion we experience when on video calls throughout the day.

💪 Develop real awareness: By depending on self-view to ensure you ‘aren’t making a fool out of yourself’, you are distancing yourself from building new awareness and muscle memory around effective video presence behaviors. While watching a recording can be helpful, trying to decipher effective and non-effective behaviors via self-view analysis realtime on a call creates mental overload. Thus, we begin to depend on our self-view far more than is healthy, or helpful.

But how do I do this? You might be wondering…check out the below 30 second video that demonstrates how to hide your self-view in Google Meet and Zoom. 

I usually leave everyone with the following caveat about hiding your self-view: 

Take it slow at first. Start with your self-view enabled to build up some confidence around where you are showing up in the frame, and ensuring all looks good from the beginning. Then start getting more and more courageous in hiding your self-view earlier and earlier in the call. 

Eventually, you can get to the point of doing a quick pre-call check to confirm your lighting and framing are ideal (which our Sidekick can do for you anytime!) and then off you go, connecting and conversing in a powerful way, without getting distracted by yours truly. 

What do you think? Are you game?