No One Cares How You Look on Zoom

Along with a few other tips to make video less painful

Michael Thompson
Published in
5 min readJan 29, 2021


Screen of multiple work colleagues on video call
Photo: Alistair Berg/DigitalVision/Getty Images

I clicked on the Zoom invitation and was taken to a black screen. Moments later, I heard a voice: “Michael, what’s up?”

For the next 30 minutes, my friend, Austin Belcak, and I talked in darkness about life and career advice. Prior to wrapping up the call, I asked him about not including the video option. “It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. My main priority is to keep my sanity, and video calls steal my energy.” he said.

Austin then went on to explain that instead of giving people an option, on his invitation, he normally just sends his phone number. Then he buckets his calls into two- or three-hour blocks, laces up his sneakers, grabs his notebook, and goes for a long walk.

This simple switch — which 99% of the people he speaks with find refreshing — has allowed him to turn something he used to dread into something he enjoys.

I wholeheartedly agree with Austin that video isn’t always necessary. But, unfortunately, sometimes it is.

As someone who thinks of Zoom as fondly as I do my disgruntled dentist, over the last few months, I’ve been stealing a line from Austin and asking myself how I can turn something that steals my energy into something that produces it.

In addition to the basics like taking breaks, and trading in your seat for standing on your feet, below are a few other tricks that have helped make Zoom less awful.

Remind yourself that no one cares how you look

As a guy who stutters, few things freak me out more than seeing myself struggle with a word on camera. I also have a bad habit of looking everywhere but the person I’m talking to when I’m thinking.

I was nervous as hell to release a training video my friends I recently made as my face was in a state of perpetual cringe while watching the replay. But here’s the thing: Jabs from other people never came. In fact, I received a handful of messages from people saying how much they liked what I had to say.

According to a study performed by Highfive and Zogby Analytics, 59% of adults are more self-conscious on camera than in…



Michael Thompson
Writer for

Co-creator of two cool kids • Storytelling Coach •.Fast Co., Insider, Forbes • Free storytelling guide here: