How Vanity Affects Video Communication

Lots of money, energy and time has been poured into the video conferencing market to solve the simple problem of video communication. While there are issues with traditional solutions that need to be solved (why do we still need dongles?), it turns out that our own vanity is actually a big reason why people don’t use video conferencing as a go-to collaboration tool.

If you’ve ever felt like the spotlight is on you in an uncomfortable way when you use video conferencing, you’re not alone: A recent survey we did with Zogby Analytics showed that 59 percent of adults are more self-conscious on camera than in real life.

We walked away with a lot of interesting stats from this study. Some were just plain ridiculous (note: to the 11 percent of you who don’t wear pants on video calls, please rethink your wardrobe choices), but others pointed to some deeper issues we have around self-esteem and appearance.

Video conferencing, at face value

Some of the most common hang-ups that folks had on-camera were their hair (35 percent), facial expression (39 percent), teeth (24 percent), bags under their eyes (24 percent) and double chin (22 percent). And that’s just a few of the top answers — respondents weighed in with a wide range of things they worried about. That might help explain why 30 percent of those surveyed spend more than half of their video call time looking at their own face.

How To Look Good On Camera

Sure, it’s possible that those folks are just sucked into the gravitational pull of their own attractiveness. But with nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) worrying more about their looks on a video call than the content they present, it’s not the most likely explanation. And this fear seems to be shaping behavior — about a third of people spend more time wondering how to look good on video than planning their presentation.

The good news

I say, enough is enough. This obsession and constant worry about our looks is bad for productivity, bad for our self-esteem and just plain bad for our overall wellbeing. But it turns out… no one really cares.

Workplace Anxiety

People don’t care so much about what you look like on camera — it’s what you do that matters. In our survey, we saw that what people found most repelling on video calls were sitting too close to the camera (15 percent), hearing people eat (12 percent) and gum chewing (10 percent). Read: Easily fixable, non-appearance related traits.

That’s nice… But what can I do?

We get it — hearing that others don’t care what you look like and internalizing it are two entirely different things. If you need to take some extra steps to help keep that camera-shyness at bay, try some of these tips on for size:

  • Show some common courtesy: Unshockingly, a lot of people got annoyed with those who arrive to meetings unprepared, get distracted or take the call from a noisy location. There’s an easy fix for those things — don’t do them. Act courteously and you can expect to receive respect in return.
  • Get to know your coworkers: According to our findings, people who worked alongside their coworkers in an office were much more likely to enjoy video conferencing than those who worked from home. Practice makes perfect — the more you get to know somebody, the more comfortable you’ll likely be with them on a video call.  
  • Think like a CEO: Out of everyone surveyed, C-level executives rated themselves as being the most attractive. Even if you’re at an entry-level position, you can use this info to your advantage by faking it ‘til you make it. In the end, the appearance of confidence can be just as convincing as the real thing.

So the next time you’re on a video call, try to breathe. Odds are, you’re not the only person who’s worried about their looks — but you’re probably the only one worried about your looks. If you can make “No one cares what I look like” your new mantra, you might just start to become a little more comfortable in your own skin.

Look Good On Video

And that’s a beautiful thing.



By Katie Takacs