April 23, 2020
If you’re like me, you’ve spent more time on video calls in the last six weeks than you ever thought possible. You’ve probably become an expert on platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, FaceTime, BlueJeans, WebEx, GoToMeeting and maybe even House Party. Whether for business or personal use, video conferencing has become a way of life.
Considering that this will probably last a while and become, to some degree, part of our new normal, I thought it would be good to provide a few tips for putting your best face forward on your next video call.
- Raise the camera! When you set up your home office or decide where to position your phone for a call, make sure it is at eye level. Question: how many times have you taken a picture of someone and heard them say, “Put the camera down, I look better from a lower angle.” I’m guessing not often. Position your laptop or your camera so you are looking straight, not down, at the camera. After six weeks I know way too much about my coworkers’ ceilings and choices for overhead lighting.
- Dress for success. Sounds simple but it is just so easy to throw on a baseball hat, a comfortable sweatshirt and get on with your day. While not having to get dressed for work every day is a small silver lining of our current situation, if you have a business-related video call, treat it as a business meeting. Take a minute or two to dress (at least your upper half) appropriately. It matters. A saving grace here is the relatively low quality of the video window. I wore an old golf shirt the other day that would never pass in the office and received several comments that I’d gotten “dressed up” and looked good. Amazing what a collar can do.
- Care about your background. As we are all working from home, I realize it can be difficult to find a quiet, private place to work and conduct calls (have seen many basements, a garage and even a laundry room used) or a place that is not infested with significant others, kids or pets (I now know what all of my colleagues’ cats look like). That said, make sure what is behind looks presentable. We are not all Barbara Ling when it comes to set design, but be sure what’s behind you is what you want people to see. You are, after all, letting them into your home.
Bonus Tip: Stay focused (or least pretend to). We’ve all found ourselves on calls that simply need passive attention. That, however, is not an excuse to blatantly multi-task. Others on the call are watching! They can tell if you are checking email, engaging in a side text conversation or just incredibly bored. Stay focused people, it will be over soon.
As a final aside, not every call needs to be a video call. The old-fashioned way of simply dialing someone’s digits to discuss something is very acceptable. Speaking for myself, I am not always “video” ready.