Alleviating Zoom fatigue with a teleprompter

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My teleprompter setup for Zoom meetings

After my desk recently featured on Workspaces, its curator, Ryan, mentioned that several people had asked about the teleprompter set up I use for video meetings.

I’ve been working from home for 10 years, so video meetings were nothing new to me when the pandemic started. Even by that point, I’d been experimenting with higher quality meeting set ups, using a better microphone and my everyday camera (a Fuji X-E4) as a webcam.

There’s no escaping the fact that trying to look at folks on a screen means you’re not looking them in the eye. This creates an odd disconnect not present in any normal human interaction. I have a theory that this disconnect, this lack of genuine connection (eye to eye), contributes heavily to ‘Zoom fatigue’.

So I thought I’d try using a teleprompter to put video meetings on. When the other person is full screen, this feels a lot closer to speaking ‘face to face’. The other person has the added normality of me looking them in the eye when we’re speaking, too. I feel like this goes some way to making a video call feel that bit more realistic.

I bought a large-ish teleprompter from Amazon and put the X-E4 in it — positioning the camera so that I’m looking directly into the lens when the other person’s eyes are at its level. This creates an obvious problem you’ll have considered — the image displayed is mirrored, i.e. back to front.

When I first tried this set up, I was using an iPad as the display, and had to do a lot of faffing around with OBS to flip the image. This quickly got more tiresome than the actual meetings. Then I discovered the Lilliput 10" field monitor on Amazon (via Aaron Parecki), which has a built in ‘image flip’ function.

I connect the MacBook to my desk monitor via USB-C, and the Lilliput is connected via the HDMI interface. This becomes another monitor — making it easy to drag Zoom, or whatever video meeting I’m in, to the Lilliput. The monitor flips the image, so moving the mouse around is perfectly natural.

This may not be the cheapest way to ease Zoom fatigue, (how about not having so many meetings? 🤷‍♂️) but since working-from-home saves on commuting costs, I consider it a worthwhile outlay.

Here’s a video I made a while ago about the desk setup. The only things that have changed since I made this, are the introduction of the teleprompter so I’m not looking at the camera above the computer, and the iMac being replaced with the separate screen and laptop.

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