Mastering the video call set up
2020 is the year that video conferencing really took off - helping us work from home, children meet with teachers in lockdown, and family and friends stay in touch in a more meaningful way.
Its widespread use has led to more flexible working, with video conferencing becoming the norm rather than a novelty.
Our homes have become extensions of our workplaces, into which we welcome colleagues, clients and leads. So it’s worth taking video conferencing seriously; having laundry drying in the background may be less appropriate now. And if you're planning to take an extended stay at the bach or holiday home this summer, having your video calling set up mastered, means you'll still be able to maintain a professional/work mode appearance while being able to keep those jandals on.
How to shine online in video conferences
Just as you want to be professional and make a good impression in person - the same is true online. So here are 7 tips to help you appear in the best possible light in your video conferences:
- Connection - get the most reliable broadband
Video conferences work best when they’re glitch-free. Having a fibre connection is the best way to receive and send video and sound, without frustrating disruptions which make meetings less productive.
Being the fastest and most reliable broadband means that fibre is also able to handle multiple users at the same time - so your meeting will continue smoothly even if others in your household are streaming TV or downloading games. You can see if fibre is available at your address here.
You can also improve connection speed and reliability by bypassing WiFi and connecting your device directly to your router with an ethernet cable.
2. Camera - it’s better to be in HD
Did you know that smartphone and tablet high definition selfie cameras (1080p) have twice the picture quality of laptop cameras (720p)? That means that when you use your laptop camera, others in your video conference aren’t seeing you as clearly as possible.
For less than $100, you can by an HD camera and connect it to your laptop via a USB. It will make you stand out and could make your message more persuasive too.
3. Camera position - be straight and level
Colleagues would rather not look up your nostrils - so a low camera position is out. And if you’re using two screens, a camera to the side could make them dizzy with you constantly looking left then right. The best camera position is straight in front at eye level. It encourages you to sit up straight and stay engaged - and being framed centrally also helps others concentrate on what you’re saying.
4. Lighting - bright and in front
In workplace meetings, you try to appear alert and bright. Having badly positioned lighting for your video conference meetings gives the opposite impression - with lights from behind creating a gloomy, silhouette effect. So place a directional light - or use natural light from a window - behind or just to the side of the camera to help illuminate your face.
5. Background - impressions count
You want your colleagues to concentrate on what you’re saying - not on the set of golf clubs and exercise bike in the background. Take a little time to make sure that what’s over your shoulders isn’t distracting and gives the right impression.
6. Audio - do a sound check
Sound quality can make or break your online meeting, with echoing, 'robot voice’ and participants remaining mute being typical problems. There are many variables with sound, including your laptop, the settings it has with the software, and headphones you may be using. So it’s important to test your audio - especially before an important meeting - to make sure you come across loud and clear.
7. Etiquette - it’s better to be seen
On occasions, it’s okay to have your camera off; for example, with colleagues you know well. But at other times, it’s worth considering the message you’re unintentionally sending to others by appearing as a black square. Having the camera on enables you to fully participate - whether that’s reacting to, or supporting others through your body language, or by making your own message more impactful.
Video conferencing is a key part of successfully working from home. For more tips on how to work effectively and happily from home, take a look at our guide here.