As the world transitions to a work from home model, the way in which we conduct business has changed from face to face meetings to video conferences and video calls. This transition brings with it a few challenges, one being how to best conduct these video meetings.
As a general rule of thumb, you should treat a video conference as if it were a face to face meeting. Avoid the temptation to multi-task or turn off your video and claim ‘technical difficulties’. In addition to that, there are four other mistakes to avoid.
Bad camera angles.
A good camera angle is one of two incredibly important factors on a video call. A bad angle is not only unflattering but can actually be a distraction. It can also make you appear less professional. You want the camera to be at eye level. For laptops, there a couple of options – an adjustable laptop stand, standing desk, or simply a pile of books. If you’re using a phone or tablet, a mini tripod is a great option, but the pile of books works also works well.
Poor quality audio.
There’s nothing more frustrating on a video call than poor quality audio. Use headphones so that you can both hear and be heard more clearly. Be sure that if you’re using wireless headphones they’re fully charged so they don’t die in the middle of an important call. It’s always a good idea to have a wired pair available as a backup.
Distractions in the background.
In a perfect world, everyone would be chatting from their home office that’s perfectly set up for taking video calls. In reality, a lot of us are having to carve workspaces out of small apartments. This presents a particular challenge for video calls because you need to find space that has a clean and clutter free background.
Be careful of what’s showing in your background – a lot of web cameras have fairly wide angles, so often there’s more in view that you might think. If you have artwork on your walls, make sure that it’s work appropriate. The same goes for books on a bookshelf. People are curious by nature, so they’ll be trying to read the titles and check out the artwork.
When in doubt, pull down the window shades or close the curtains so that you have a solid background. Another options is to use a virtual background or background blur if the platform has those options, but be sure to test them first as they aren’t 100% perfect.
Not muting yourself.
Not muting yourself is the biggest sin you can commit on a conference call. Every little sound you make is picked up, from the clacking of keys as you type to your roommate’s call in the other room. You can also avoid potential embarrassment if you have to keep shushing your dog from barking or asking your kids or roommates to stop talking. Most platforms have an option to start calls on mute, so make that your default.
The best way to avoid these mistakes is to do a test run before your first video conference and a quick double check each time you log on.