4 Ways to be a Better Communicator on Zoom

communicate better on zoom

Not even a global pandemic can stop us from communicating. While video calls aren’t optimal, there are things we can do to reduce “Zoom fatigue” and feel more connected to the people on our call. Learn these 4 ways to communicate better on zoom and ensure success.

1. Hide your own video.


When we’re effectively communicating with someone in person, there is a level of self-awareness involved in understanding how you’re showing up and how the person would like you to engage with them. This self-awareness is taken to an unhelpful extreme when there’s a video of yourself staring back at you. This would be like staring into a mirror when talking to someone in person. Awkward and distracting, to say the least. 

The good news is that on Zoom, you can hide yourself without turning off your camera. Others can see you, but you won’t be staring at yourself—the closest you’ll get to the experience of talking in person. If you’re in Gallery mode, all you have to do is right-click your video to display the menu and choose “Hide Self View.”

It might be easy to say, “Well I just don’t/won’t look at myself,” but it is nearly impossible to not pay attention to your every blink, wiggle, and stray hair. To really be present, you’re better off hiding your video and giving your full attention to others. 

2. Optimize your onscreen appearance as well as others’.


Optimizing your appearance is about more than just looking good, it’s about the ability to read subtle facial cues, which are hugely important to effective communication. Human beings are extremely sensitive to one another’s facial expressions, and expressions of emotion are a detailed display of muscle contractions, particularly around the eyes and mouth, often subconsciously perceived, and essential to our understanding of one another.

It’s important to give everyone their best chance at picking up these clues that underpin any dialogue by placing yourself in a well-lit space, placing your laptop or digital device on a firm surface, and allowing your face to take up no more or less of one-third of the screen. These conditions most closely mimic an in-person interaction where you can see clearly the nuanced projection of thought and emotion.  

If you’re having trouble seeing someone’s face, if their camera is shaking and swaying, or if their face is too far or too close to the camera, let them know. Facilitate a conversation that will allow you to communicate more easily and effectively on this two way street. 

3. Make sure you have a strong internet connection.


While this tip seems to go without saying, having a poor internet connection on a video call does more than alter the quality of transmission, it alters the emotional value of the interaction. We cannot be our most effective communicator when there’s an underlying feeling of frustration or disconnect. 

Psychologists, neuroscientists, and computer scientists say that distortions and delays in video communication can make you feel anxious and isolated. The brain is in a state of dissonance trying to make sense of the fragmented information it’s receiving. This cerebral confusion translates to emotional discomfort. You may not even be aware that the symptoms of a weaker internet connection are causing stress and fatigue. 

Communicating through a screen is hard enough without the extra burden of audio or video going in and out, lagging, or being distorted in any way. Again, the most effective communication happens when we can clearly see and hear the person with whom we’re engaging so that we can better lean into their style. Tip: If your wi-fi isn’t very strong, try hard-wiring into your modem or router.

4. Lean into the others’ style.


This is without a doubt the most important tip for any effective communication, on Zoom or in person. 

The best communication happens when we lean into the style of the person to whom we’re talking. The good news about this is we do it naturally. Without realizing it, all of us engage in mimicry when we encounter another person. By mimicking, we are essentially saying “I behave like you do, I fit in here, and we trust each other.” We can mimic someone’s facial expression and body language, but we can also mimic their verbal style of communication. 

For instance, some people may get on a work call and immediately  dive into an agenda with ferocity and focus. Others may get on and wish to talk about how everyone is doing first and what they’ve been up to before getting into the work. Some people may get on a Zoom happy hour and speak quickly and excitedly, while others may quietly listen and absorb. 

Pay attention to the tone, pace, and message of the people on your calls, and lean into it. This is where the Insights Discovery model comes into play. To learn about Insights Discovery, click here. For now, here’s a quick cheat sheet:

If they smile a lot… smile more.

If they’re more serious… smile less.

If they speak quickly… speed up. 

If they speak slowly… slow down. 

Don’t treat people the way you want to be treated. Treat them the way they want to be treated. You don’t have to fully mimic their behavior and style, but you must be aware of it and lean into it, even just five percent, to build stronger rapport and communicate more effectively.

The days of zoom are far from over. It’s in our best interest to learn how best to communicate with others through a screen. In the end, you may find a lot of what you’ve learned applies to more than just  Zoom meetings. 

Do you have any great communication tips to share? Let me know at

Discover Yourself – Effective Listening

Management and psychology

In business, learning to listen to others is a crucial skill, especially when working in management. Whether we’re speaking with our employees, our clients, or with the upper management team, we must strive to hone our communication skills in terms of both conveying information and taking information in.

Today we’re going to discuss an approach called effective listening, also known as active listening. We’ll also share some practical tips to improve active listening skills.

Do we really listen?

Most people think that they are a good listener. A study by William Haney from the 1970s asked over 13,000 people from various organizations to compare their listening skills with others who they worked with. The results showed that virtually every person thought that they communicated as well as or better than almost everyone else in their organization. Of course, this is not how averages work! In reality, a study by Husman and colleagues from the 1980s found that most people listen at just 25% efficiency. Other studies since then have found that we only take in about 25 – 50% of what we hear.

There’s obviously a big gap between us judging ourselves to be excellent listeners and the reality that we hear less than half of what is said to us. We tend to overestimate our listening skills in part because communication takes place between at least two people, making it difficult to gauge whether we are communicating effectively without input from the other party. Another issue is the lack of clear objective criteria for assessing whether communication has been successful. Overall, this ubiquitous overestimation suggests that while we all agree that listening is important, we also don’t generally feel a need to improve our own listening skills.

Why effective listening matters

This gap between how we perceive our listening skills to be and how our listening skills actually are can cause serious issues in the workplace and elsewhere. Managers should strive to understand the employee perspective as well as the information being shared, even if the method used to convey this information is somewhat less than crystal clear.

Effective listening not only helps to diffuse conflicts and deal with problems, it also helps foster a greater understanding between managers and employees. It allows us to hone in on the subtle cues that help us assess a person’s strengths and weaknesses, thereby allowing us to formulate positive responses that will be most effective in encouraging and motivating them.

What is effective listening?

What exactly is effective listening, and how is it different from regular listening? A study in the Harvard Business Review analyzed the behavior of nearly 3,500 participants and found common patterns of behavior among the most effective listeners:

  • Effective listening requires active engagement, not just silence. Asking questions establishes a two-way dialogue with the speaker. If we sit in silence, it is hard for the speaker to know if they are being heard. But if we engage and asks for clarification or for more information, that demonstrates to the speaker that their message is clearly understood.
  • Effective listening makes the speaker feel positive. When a person feels listened to in a positive way, their self-esteem rises. In effective listening, we should be supportive and convey confidence in the speaker, even when we don’t necessarily agree with what is being said. The aim of effective listening is not to challenge the speaker or their ideas, but to understand their perspective through the creation of a safe environment.
  • Effective listening is cooperative. While it’s important to not listen in silence, it is equally crucial to pose questions in a way that is not combative or interrogative. We’re not trying to win an argument, but to cooperate in building a consensus of mutual understanding, even when there is disagreement between ourselves and the speaker.
  • Effective listening is proactive. The fact that effective listening is cooperative and not combative doesn’t mean that we can’t provide feedback. In fact, one of the hallmarks of effective listening is providing suggestions to the speaker. When we feel listened to and respected, we become more receptive to suggestions than when those suggestions come from someone who has been combative or argumentative.

In summary, the HBR study found that effective listening is about more than passively absorbing information – it is about letting the speaker bounce their ideas off of us and creating an environment of mutual respect and cooperation.

Methods to listen effectively

Let’s take a look at some practical tips we can use to improve our effective listening while bearing the above points in mind:

  • Maintain good eye contact. Doing so allows us to signal to the speaker that they have our undivided attention.
  • Don’t interrupt. Let the speaker explain in their own time without jumping in while they are talking.
  • Don’t just wait for the next opening to talk. It’s very common to become preoccupied with looking for the next opportunity to speak. Instead, we should always focus on the present and what’s being said.
  • Don’t judge or require justifications. It’s okay to ask clarifying questions, be we should be careful to avoid putting the speaker on the spot to defend their position or otherwise suggest we need to be persuaded to listen further.
  • Use open body language. Maintain forward-facing posture towards the speaker, nod as they speak, use confirmation words like “uh huh,” and smile.
  • Repeat back to the speaker. One popular management technique is to confirm with the speaker. When they have finished, we can say “So if I’m understanding you, you’re saying that…”

Effective listening is critical for becoming a better manager. By implementing these techniques in our everyday communication, we can foster a more productive working environment among our employees, clients and peers.

Learn more about how using Insights Discovery can help you become a better listener, at

Check back soon for more posts on psychology and management!

Using Other Color Personalities

When it comes to adapting and communicating, we sometimes miss the point. We get more caught up in finishing a project or assignment than actually hearing what someone else is saying. We rush through directions with our team without understanding that a person in the group might have a better idea, or might be caught up in their concept of the project or idea. We forget that adapting to others’ work styles can make our professional lives easier, even as it teaches us to change our perceptions and behavior.

Work can be tough. We’re expected to lead a group of people we may not know well; we’re expected to follow directions, even when they don’t make sense to us. Somehow we all have to form some cooperative agreement to meet our work goals, and some of us might have the chance to build personal relationships with the people we work with.

The skills of others

Finding people you trust and mesh with at work can make a professional environment a lot more friendly and welcoming, especially when you spend the majority of your week there. Building personal relationships in a professional environment is possible, but can be difficult. You may be surrounded by people whose strengths and personalities are much different than yours. You’re also surrounded by people who may not want a personal relationship with their co-workers as they vie for professional accolades or promotion.

Stepping back and gaining a new perspective on a professional situation can help you deal with it better, no matter your personality or the personalities of the people around you. Noticing where you are in conflict with others can help you determine how you can change your attitude or approach to a professional situation.

Having someone you trust at your job can also help you notice where your personality might clash with others and how you can prevent these clashes in the future. A good action plan for adapting and communicating better with those around you might take an outside pair of eyes to create. We can’t always see where we might be reacting wrongly in a situation, but an objective bystander may be able to shed light on the problem.

Strengths and weaknesses

The personality strengths we have depend on what Color Personality we are. Other people have different strengths and weaknesses that we can use to better communicate with people around us. Using their insights and trusting their judgment can open up our professional lives in many ways.

Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

Strategic Communication


Strategy and communication are often two words that cause a buzz in a professional environment. Some people cringe when they hear the word strategy- it means a coordinated plan, or at least what seems like a coordinated plan to those who came up with it. For those who have to implement these workplace strategies, it can simply mean a lot more work.

Ditto with communications. We often talk about communicating better in our professional lives, and even in our personal lives. We wonder why someone misinterpreted our email or other digital communication, forgetting that other people don’t know what’s going on in our heads. Our tone, vocabulary, and structure of our communications can carry a larger message than the content of our communication efforts.

Implementing strategies

Putting together a strategic plan for communicating better with others doesn’t have to be a pain, but it will lead to a shift in your perspective and attitude toward other people and situations that may come up with in your life. The Four Color Personalities idea is built around the concept that we each have different personality strengths that can be built into broader categorizations about how we interact with and react to the world around us. These categories not only help us understand why we think and act the way we do but why others behave in the ways they do as well.

Coordinating your personality and matching it up to what you know about someone else isn’t the final solution to strategic communication- far from it! Strategic communication means learning about yourself, who you are, and what your personality is like so that you can better grasp why some people are easy to work with and why others might not be.

Creating an intentional atmosphere of strategic communication is something that can take place at home, at work, or even out and about during your everyday life.

Intentional Communication

Sometimes it can take more than a little bit of effort to break through a communication barrier with a co-worker, a boss, or a business partner you have contact with. You may need an outside pair of eyes to see where your communication skills may be lacking, and what you could do to improve your connection with another person. Think about what strategies you could use to communicate better with the knowledge of someone else’s color personality in mind.

Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

Communicating with the Four Color Personalities


Communicating with other people is sometimes the most frustrating part of our day. Hollywood loves a good misunderstanding, which may explain the wealth of comedic films and romantic comedies that get pumped out every year. Misunderstandings can happen between people who are complete strangers and between individuals who know each other very well; all this boils down to a lack of communication and a lack of active listening.

Learning how to adapt, communicate and interact with others is something we work on our entire lives. When you begin to dive into understanding your personality type more, you’ll unconsciously begin to notice certain character traits in other people as well. Spotting these strong character traits can help you along the way to more effective communication and cooperation with people of different personality types that you see every day.

Intentional interaction

When you are familiar with the four color personalities system, you can begin to categorize the people around you into their specific personality type as well as yourself. Knowing what your personality type gives you a baseline for understanding how you will interact and react with people who have a different or opposite personality type from you. You may even realize that interacting with someone of your same character type is the most frustrating!

The flip side of positive interactions with other people is knowing what behaviors aren’t going to be good for either of you. Try to play to the strengths of the other person; for instance, a Sunshine Yellow personality is looking to involve people in the work they are doing. They will respond well to people who display a bit of a competitive spirit and who are passionate about the project at hand, but won’t be as happy working with people who are slow paced or hesitant about moving forward.

Playing to strengths

A Fiery Red personality wants to get things done now and has little patience for co-workers who need to be told what to do. Fiery Red personalities need direct interactions and strong opinions, as well as a straightforward approach to the conversation or project. Earth Green personalities will find a Fiery Red approach to be overwhelming, and seek to foster a harmonious and encouraging setting in which peoples’ voices can be heard.

Finally, a Cool Blue personality will interact the best with someone who understands that they want to do it right the first time around. Spontaneity doesn’t always work with Cool Blues, who appreciate a controlled and deliberate approach.

Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!