What's wrong with watching yourself during video meetings?
Project type: Digital product design
My role: Research, UX/UI design
It's a locked-in feature of video conferencing tools.
Even though, watching yourself during meetings is awkward and unnatural.
If you enter a video meeting room, your face is shown on your screen as well as others.
However, when we faced the situation that we had to spend hours in video meetings every day, plenty of users started saying it is awkward to watch their self-videos in real-time. Indeed, we never do this in on-site meetings.
Researchers have pointed out "seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing". It evokes cognitive overload to users and ends up with lower performance in distance collaboration.
What users are saying
Jane, Magazine editor
"I’m constantly looking at my own face instead of focusing on the other people. … What is this doing to my self-image?"
Austin, Ph. D student
"Very strange to spend meeting times looking in a mirror at oneself."
Helene, K12 teacher
"It would be nice to not feel like I'm working facing a mirror."
Jonathan, Financial coaching
"….my own image is blocking another attendee's! So that I can't see their reactions to what I am saying."
Why do these tools make you see yourself?
"Remember the others can still see you. Don't relax too much."
Hundred say "Be your best self on camera".
Numerous blogs, news articles, and support documents from your organization mention how to be the best look in your camera for a successful video meeting. They kindly warn you that when you don't see your self-video, you can forget that you are visible to others and make silly mistakes.
It is an error prevention mechanism for the users.
"I stopped doing it (self-view). Then my colleague told me I was flossing my teeth in a meeting, so I put it back on." - a user's voice
What if our video call is like this?
Current technology lacks the feedback needed for context awareness.
Until today, we don't have a technology that gives us the feeling present of others in the video meeting. Moreover, no one in the squares of attendees appears to be looking at you.
The fact is, you never know who is looking at you and when.
It is what makes you keep checking how you appear to others.
"... to see myself during presentations to help modulate expressions and body movements." - a user's voice
The dilemma around self-view
Therefore, by taking self-view away from the screen, users wants to remove distraction and focus on the meeting more.
However, it also leads them to lose a means for self-monitoring and take the risk of unconscious mistakes.
So unavoidably, the users turn on self-view again. They have to continue unhealthy, constant self-conscious (being conscious of other people's eyes).
Without distracting ‘self mirror’, give awareness that you are in a meeting with others
Provides a means for users to block real-time self-views as needed
Prompt users to be aware minimum self-conscious (you are still shown to others)
- Easy to control users' self-view video
- Place on-camera sign: minimum sign indicating the camera is on
The project was a part of my work at NUITEQ, and this prototype was developed for Stage (www.nuiteqstage.se), a web-based remote cooperation tool by NUITEQ.