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The use of video conferencing software has skyrocketed over the past couple of months. Though this concept has been around for a while, people are starting to adopt it increasingly. Video conferencing is an awesome tool to use while trying to maintain productivity and effectively communicate with other business owners or clients. If you are new to the concept of meeting over the computer screen, there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to put your best foot forward on your video call.

 

video conference call

 

Video And Audio

You should always keep your video on while you are in a video conference. The only exception is if your background is inappropriate or very distracting. Having your video on and letting people see you helps to build trust. If the people you are talking to cannot see you, they probably will not trust you. Try your best to make yourself presentable that way you are always on screen. Also, be sure to test your video and audio well before your video conference starts.

Look at the camera. It can be difficult to know where to avert your eyes, but the answer is simple. Keep looking into the camera and not your screen. The goal is to give the simulation that you are looking into their eyes while you are talking.

Make sure you are using a good quality camera (this Logitech is the one I use and recommend) and headset if possible. If not, no worries. Your laptop camera should be just fine. It is also recommended that you use headphones or a headset with a good mic that way your participants can hear you clearly without any issues or weird feedback.

Adjust your camera angles to that the sun is shining on your face. Sit in front of a window so that you have lots of natural light, if possible. Avoid sitting with your back to the sunlight, otherwise, it will shade you in. You will be a talking silhouette and you do not want that. You want to make sure that your participants can see you clearly. It is also a good idea to make sure that your camera is angled in a position that is not too high or too low. Set your camera at eye level. Remember, the goal is to simulate you looking into their eyes while you are talking.

Do any hardware tests before your call. There is nothing worse than having to stop a virtual presentation mid-way because of a terrible internet connection. If you are able to connect to the internet using an ethernet cable as opposed to wifi, that would be an ideal situation. If not, just make sure that you run an internet speed test. You can find a bunch online for free, and they are very simple to use. These video and audio tips are a must when it comes to putting your best foot forward.

Video Conference Etiquette

Manners in a video conference are slightly different than those that are in-person. Avoid eating during your video meeting. You would not eat in front of someone in a business meeting, so do not do the same thing virtually. Stay alert while you are on the conference call. You do not want to get caught up in trying to do multiple things at once. Give whoever is talking your undivided attention. Unless it is an emergency, while you on your video conference call, avoid multitasking.

If you are not the one talking, mute your microphone. Your computer microphone or the microphone attached to your headset is very sensitive. It can pick up the dog barking across the street as well as your steady breaths. To avoid distraction while on the video call, make sure that you mute yourself if you are not the one talking. If you are hosting a video conference, it is recommended that you advise everyone to mute themselves until it is their turn to talk. Some video conferencing software switches the panel to whoever the audio is coming from. If you forget to unmute yourself, the screen will constantly bounce back between you and whoever is actually doing the talking. How embarrassing! This is why muting your microphone is so important.

Be on time for your meetings. Maintain your punctuality. There may be some cases where you get to a video meeting on time, but it is not open yet. Resist the urge to close out and come back when it is finally open. The host is more than likely waiting for the exact time to open the meeting and you want to be there as soon as he or she does so. If there was an agenda emailed prior to the meeting, have that at the ready so you can follow along and engage in conversation if needed.

Do your best to avoid doing things that could be super embarrassing. I am sure you have seen enough clips of people wearing no pants during a meeting only to be busted when you had to get up unexpectedly to chase your child! Mistakes happen. No one is perfect. Step away from your screen and be sure to turn off your camera. If it is appropriate, let people know why you are stepping away. Just remember to turn your camera off before doing something embarrassing.

Pick Your Environment

Make sure that your background is clean and free of distraction. Your clients or potential clients do not want to see a pile of clothes on the floor, an unmade bed, or anything else you may not want them to see. This is why making sure you have a clean background is so important. A plain wall, near a potted plant, some interesting artwork, or even a bookshelf all work when it comes to choosing the best background.

A quiet space, free of distraction is a must.  Noisey distractions are a quick way to annoy your participants in your video conference. I always tell my family when I am about to hop on a conference call. This reduces the chances of unexpected noise distractions while on your video conference. However, I have had a cat walk across the screen before!

Keep Your Audience Engaged

There is nothing worse than a long, drawn-out video conference call. Keep your presentation short. You want to make full use of what your video conferencing software has to offer. Do all you can, within reason, and as long as it makes sense with your meeting. Utilize screen share, send a quick poll during your presentation, encourage feedback in the chat if there is a chatting function. You can also divide your video participants into virtual breakout rooms, send them to a website that is relevant to your presentation or have them complete a Google Form. There are plenty of ways to keep your audience engaged while giving a virtual presentation.

If you are on the receiving end of a presentation, be sure that you show that you are engaged. Remember the goal is to simulate natural conversation. The more natural your video conference feels for the viewer, the better.

When In Doubt, Record Yourself

If after all these tips, you are still concerned about how you can put your best foot forward before a video conference, record yourself giving the presentation and play it back for you to analyze and adjust. Make note of your body language, eye contact, or potential wardrobe malfunctions. Take it an extra step further and send the video to one of your friends or practice live with a friend. They will be able to tell you what you should adjust. When you get nervous, do you tend to use too many filler words like uhs and ums? Are you maintaining the right amount of eye contact without being too creepy? These are all questions and critiques that can be made once you watch yourself.

Video conferencing is an efficient way to communicate with your team members remotely. It was widely used before COVID-19 and it will continue to be used after. By following these tips you will be prepared and ready to take on your first video conference call professionally and with ease. 

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