“Is that how I really look?”
I bet that sentiment was rattling around many people’s minds this past week.
Thanks to COVID-19 social distancing mandates, thousands, if not millions, of people are working from home, forced to use video conferencing to keep in touch with co-workers and clients.
Video conferencing is awkward, especially from home. The technology is intimidating. People are dressed for home – jammies, decades old concert t-shirts, and worse. Backdrops include living rooms littered with toys and clothing racks in closets. Screaming kids and barking dogs providing distracting ambient noice.
Whether it’s ZOOM, Skype, Facetime, or some other platform, everyone hates the way they look and sound in video conference calls.
I’m no stranger to working from home having done so for the last 10 or so years. I’m also no stranger to video conferencing and the feelings of self-consciousness that comes along with it.
I’ve learned a few hacks along the way to lessen my anxiety and to look and sound better in video conference calls.
Here’s how to look and sound more Kardashian and less troll in your next video conference call.
Test out your equipment and the platform
15 minutes prior, make sure all of your equipment is working and you understand how the platform works. The most common tech glitch in video conferencing? The “microphone” is turned off. Make a test call to make sure both the video and audio are working.
Let there be light…front lighting, that is
Have a light source illuminating the front of your face to make the image crisper and to avoid shadows. Face a window with bright sunlight, or clip a booklight or “selfie ring light” (available on Amazon) onto your laptop or phone.
Watch your posture and look straight into the camera
Sit straight, and tilt your head slightly forward (like a turtle). Look straight into the camera.
Sit at a desk or a table. Never sit on a couch or a bed with the laptop on your lap unless you want everyone else on the call to be counting your chins.
Raise your laptop or phone
While we are on the subject of chin counting, make sure you are eye level with the camera on your laptop or phone. Raise your laptop using books or a laptop stand (also available on Amazon) or mount your phone on a tripod.
Dress as you would for an in-person meeting (at least from the waist up)
It’s hard to look (and feel) professional if you are wearing your jammies and your hair is in a scrunchie. Do your hair and makeup and dress as you would in an in-person meeting, at least from the waist up. Pants and shoes optional.
Pick the right backdrop
Pay attention to what is behind you. Views into a large room, especially a messy one, are distracting and will make you look less professional. Have your back to a neutral wall or a tidy bookcase.
Use your earbuds or headphones
Avoid echoes by wearing earbuds or headphones. That way, the other participants’ voices will go into your ears and won’t get picked up by your microphone.
Use good manners to avoid bad audio
Be careful not to talk over other people. Wait your turn, or perhaps even agree at the onset of the call to have everyone “raise their hand” if they need to speak.
Also, make sure there is a designated leader on the call to direct the flow of the call.
When you are not talking, stay on mute.
For more tips on working from home, be sure to read How to survive working from home for an extended period of time.
Do you have any video conference call horror stories? Leave a comment or send me an email.
Please read the Disclaimer.Tags: Facetime, Skype, Video Conference, Work from Home, Zoom
Lora Gunter says
All great suggestions! I’ve worked remotely for over 2 years and have incorporated these tips. The front lighting source is a new one for me, though! It’s especially important to be mindful of the camera if you are the speaker and are using dual screens. Remember “the audience” when you are speaking, and look into the camera eye, or at least toward that direction, so that you appear to be making virtual eye contact.