Video conferencing in the age of COVID-19 is both impressive and intimidating. Gone are the days when you could rest assured that your coworkers on the conference call wouldn’t be able to judge your lack of makeup, tangled hair, and dishes piled up on the kitchen counter. Now they want to see you as well as hear you. Thanks a lot, Zoom.
With that said, it isn’t all bad. Being able to see everyone in a meeting is a net positive, no matter how much you want to hide your slovenly homemaking. Here are five key tips and tricks to getting the most out of video conference meetings:
1. Be prepared and be on time. This means that you should test your tech (video, sound, and don’t forget about lighting), position your camera properly (please, no up-nostril shots or a view from below like you’re about to ask somebody to put lotion in a basket), and ready everything else you will need during the meeting like notepads and devices. You want to enter the call like you were walking into a real meeting room. Not being prepared for a video conference is just like showing up late in person; it just doesn’t look professional.
2. And speaking of looking professional, be sure and dress the part. Dress code is typically a little more relaxed for video conferences, so you generally don’t need to throw on a suit (which will likely be seen as overkill, especially if everyone on the call knows that you’re Zooming in from your house). But be sure to ditch the ratty U2 t-shirt, do something with your hair, and maybe even remember to take a moment to shave (not always easy during the razor holiday that is the C-19 crisis).
3. Practice etiquette during the video conference by muting your mike when not speaking and shutting off your camera feed if you need to get up (which can seem rude; also, this way you don’t have to wear pants for the call!). Try and remember to look into the camera when speaking, not the video feed on your monitor. This gives you a more authoritative presence, particularly if you need to make a point. Looking at the camera also means that you’re looking at your coworkers, which removes some of the awkwardness of a video conference and gives it a more conversational feel.
4. Stay on point. While it can be very tempting to multitask when sitting at the computer, especially if the meeting is wandering into a topic that you’re not personally invested in, this comes off extremely rude. Don’t be the guy who’s constantly checking emails, typing away, or looking at a phone.
5. Finally, don’t go crazy on video-conferencing backgrounds. There is a lot of background overkill going on these days as people set up green screens and have fun with this new normal. Yet even though it’s tempting to play with the background settings so you look like you’re on a beach or on the bridge of the Enterprise, these images and videos can look tacky in business settings. Less is more. Feel free to use something if you want to preserve your privacy, have a messy office, or are concerned about kids or pets wandering in from stage left. Just pick something somewhat professional, like an office or even a snazzy café.
Any other ideas from readers? Please share in the comments here or on our SLX Remote Works Tips and Tricks Facebook page.