Top 10 Tips for Video Calls
TOP 10 TIPS
FOR VIDEO CALLS
(Zoom, Skype, Facetime, MS Teams,etc.)
We’ve all been on our share of Zoom/FaceTime or House Party calls over the past few months. We all crave social connections and the ability to read body language, etc. We prefer face-to-face meetings, but recognize that for the forseeable future we all need to get more comfortable with our online images and presence. We have assembled a list of helpful tips for your benefit.
It’s best to start with lighting because that is one of the most important elements. Natural lighting is best, but don’t let all that light hit your back. Your screen can be a large source of light as well, so adjust your screen brightness, too, especially if you are taking a call without natural light. Take the shade off of a lamp and position it behind your camera. You can also buy lighting desktop tripods that have a stand for your phone.
2. Body/Camera Positioning
There is one, and only one, acceptable camera angle: head-on and at eye level. Your best bet is to have the camera at a height that it can be angled just slightly down at you. Think about the camera as being right at your hairline, and have it pointed down at your eyes. Nothing too extreme, but enough to give you the most flattering angle of view.
You want to also be close enough to the screen to offer ‘a head and shoulders’ view. If you’re too close to the camera, you’ll end up with a distorted face. You may also want to make sure that your camera isn't set to a wide angle, since that has the same effect.
3. Stage your Video Area
You want people focusing on your face, not what is behind you. Many people like to be photographed in front of a bookshelf; but sometimes the “stuff” behind you is distracting to others. Plain and simple backgrounds work best, or a wall with a single piece of artwork hanging. However, a blank wall might make you look like you’re in jail cell, so add some interest.
Some of the services also offer a Virtual Background where you can upload a background image which can eliminate distractions or allow you to call in from your car.
4. Do a “Test” run
You want to show up to your meeting already looking good so that you’re not adjusting your surroundings, screen brightness, angle, or hair live for everyone to see.
Once the call starts, try hiding your video preview from yourself and staying on mute if you’re not talking. Not only will you be less prone to fixing your hair or moving the angle during the call, you will also be less distracting to yourself and others. It can be easy to forget you’re on camera without your video preview, though, so try to still follow these protocols.
There are a lot of features on video platforms, such as screen sharing, locking the meeting to current participants, removing participants or placing them on hold, transferring files and managing chat options. It might be useful to learn what you can do and how to do it before a meeting starts.
5. Sound Quality
Most of us don’t have a great deal of control over audio, but you’ll sound better if you take a call in a quiet place. Also, keep in mind that your headphones might have a better mic than your computer.
As a courtesy to others, keep your microphone muted unless you are talking. Background noise can be really distracting. If you aren’t sharing anything at the moment, go ahead and hit mute until you do.
Notifications from messaging applications, ringtones, and applications running on your desktop can be distracting, which can make your attendees feel disrespected and undervalued. Mitigating these distractions helps keep the meeting focused and free from interruption.
Consider closing the windows and avoid activities that could cause excess noise, such as shuffling papers.
When it comes to clothing, avoid patterns, stripes and plaids. Choose solid, bold colors. Simple jewelry is best. Ladies, avoid earrings that dangle or any accessory that makes noise when you move.
8. Eye Contact
Look into the camera when talking instead of looking at yourself.
If you’re looking at yourself on the screen while you’re talking, it will seem like your attention is elsewhere. Direct eye contact into the camera while speaking gives the impression that you are looking at them rather than off to the side, which creates an environment where everyone feels engaged and present in the conversation.
It can be difficult to stay attentive for longer calls, but do your best to stay focused on the screen.
9. Avoid multi-tasking and distractions
Limit distractions so that you can stay focused on the meetings. If you have multiple screens, consider closing all your applications on the one you’re not using for your conference. You’ll be more engaged if you refrain from replying to emails, text messages, etc. No matter how you try to hide it, participants will notice if you’re typing an email or reading a text message.
10. Practice good video etiquette
Just like a real meeting or social event, you wouldn’t initiate a conversation between two acquaintances who haven’t met without introducing them. The same practice applies to a virtual meeting. Gage your participants knowledge of the platform and share tips that might make their experience more enjoyable. For example, switching to gallery view in Zoom is much less distracting.
Pause between speaking to allow for questions and comments. In this environment many are experiencing an internet lag, exaggerated verbal pauses might be necessary to allow others to speak. It can get very hard to be productive when several people are all talking at once, and even more so when overlapping audio and shuffling video screens are involved.
Absolutely no eating, chewing gum or sucking on mints. All will be extremely unpleasant to see and hear close up.
The general rule for meeting hosts: Wait until everyone else has left the meeting before hanging up, so attendees can leave at their own pace and get any final words in before disconnecting. A host leaving everyone else in the meeting is much like bailing on your own party.