As the global workforce shifts to a work-from-home model, conference room meetings have moved to online video-calling apps. If you’re new to video conferencing, we’re here to help you out!Are you a first-time Zoom user? Or maybe your team has chosen Facetime Calls, or GoToMeeting or Google Hangouts or Skype or any host of other video calling platforms to meet during this time of social distancing. Remote conference calls can be a challenge. Especially for those more familiar with in-person meetings. There are often participants who struggle with technology or their at-home surroundings.
Close Other Apps for Best PerformanceThis way you will also stay on track. Before starting your video conference, take some time to save your work and close any apps you won’t need. You especially want to close any programs that contain personal data or use too much CPU power. Too many open apps will slow down your computer while you’re on a video call. This is because the call itself requires a lot of resources, especially if you’re on a lightweight laptop. If you hear the fans spin during a call or the video conferencing app starts to lag, quit all other open apps.
Take Precautions Before Sharing Your ScreenIf you’re going to share your screen during a video call, it’s a good idea to take extra precautions so people can’t see anything private or potentially embarrassing. Also, enable Do Not Disturb mode on your Mac or Windows computer. This will ensure that other call participants won’t accidentally see messages from private conversations when you share your screen.
Pick a Tidy and Bright SpotAlso, make sure that you have a neutral background. If you can’t find a suitable background, you can try to blur your background on Skype. If you’re using Zoom, you can even switch to a virtual background. It’s best to make a video call in a location with ample natural light. This way, your face will be clear. However, if your room doesn’t have plenty of sunlight, try to sit under some soft lighting.
Position the Camera at Eye LevelIf you’re like most, you’re video calling off your phone, tablet or laptop. And most likely that device is sitting below your eye level and you’re looking slightly downward at it. Lift the device up so that the camera is at a 90-degree angle to your eyes and at or slightly above eye level. This way, you’ll be looking straight at the lens and appear as though you’re looking into the eyes of the person(s) you’re having a video call with right now. Trust me, it makes a huge difference. Also, when you’re talking, don’t look at yourself or the chat window—look straight into the camera. This way, others won’t feel like you’re distracted.
Organize BeforehandThere’s nothing more irritating (and frustrating and not productive) than a meeting in which everyone languidly checks in, and the person who scheduled the meeting has no plan. Don’t schedule a meeting if you don’t have an agenda in place. By providing staff with a plan, attendees know what to expect, can guesstimate how long it will run, and, if there is an element of participation, will give them an opportunity to prepare talking points. If your colleagues need to see a document, send it before the call and make sure everyone has access to all the necessary data prior to the video meeting. This way, you won’t have to spend the first few minutes of the call waiting for everyone to get up to speed. Always be prepared. If it’s a check-in or update meeting, discuss your current project and any recent accomplishment. Be clear and concise, and if you’re uncomfortable with speaking to a group, practice beforehand. Let your colleagues know that if they have questions, you’ll answer them.
Test equipmentDon’t wait until a couple of minutes before a meeting to sign on. On mobile phones: Make sure you have:
- A strong signal
- No interference
- Use a Wi-Fi with good connection
- Make sure the computer camera works (or is uncovered)
- Make sure the speakers work
- Make sure the microphone works
Dress AppropriatelyJust like in our article on working from home/remotely, dressing appropriately when on a video call is also as important. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can attend meetings in your pyjamas. Of course, there’s also no need to overdo it with a three-piece suit. Find a middle ground and dress in business casual or formal, or whatever the dress code is at your current workplace.
FocusAvoid multitasking and checking social media notifications. While it’s tempting to use video conferencing time to look at your inbox or read articles, you probably shouldn’t do that. As it will only lift your focus elsewhere. Try to pay attention when someone’s speaking and keep your eyes on the camera. Treat it the same as you would a real-life meeting. Would you be scrolling through TikTok updates if you were in a conference room right now? Most likely no. So, don’t do it on a video call either. Your colleagues will be able easily able to tell if you’re not paying attention.
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