The Elephants in the Zoom Room

Lu Hanessian
5 min readApr 28, 2021

Calling out the barriers in our virtual work life is the first key to dismantling them. Here’s to calling out 4 elephants in the Zoom room — and 7 ways to strengthen team connection and resilience.

Photo by Kaffeebart on Unsplash

We weren’t built for this.

These disconnected simulated eye contact sessions, where, to make it look like we’re looking at each other, we must not look at each other.

“Stare into the black camera hole,” we’re advised by Zoom coaches.

I totally get it. It’s good advice — if you’re a television anchor. I was a television anchor for 25 years. I know how to look into the black box and talk to a sea of invisible faces. It’s second nature. That’s the life of studio work. When we’re given the countdown by our trusty floor manager, we position our bodies, relaxed and upright, confident and credible, and face the camera. We smile at an imagined audience. For split screens, we look ahead, not at our guest who is sitting next to us on set. For satellite shots, we look ahead into the lens, not off to the right or left at the guest’s face.

Otherwise, well, it looks weird to the audience. We feign focus, because optics are close to everything in visual media.

And, ZOOM?

It’s a bit complicated. On the one hand, we’ve seen our share of ceiling shots, cluttered…

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Lu Hanessian

Adjunct Professor, Journalist, Former NBC Network Anchor/Discovery Health Channel Host, Host & Exec Producer of “The Foreseeable Now” podcast.