With in person contact at a minimum, Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and other video tools have become the go-to ways to communicate, collaborate, and evangelize brands.
The challenge that comes from working at home and living at work means being prepared for anything to happen at any time at all. From children and pets making unannounced appearances, to turning off filters and putting on pants, there is a lot to consider. Remember these tips for your next virtual meeting:
1. Preparing Your Environment
Declutter Your Space
A sink full of dishes or an unmade bed can be distractions on camera. At the same time, a plain white wall as your background offers no personality. Find a way to strike a nice balance between authenticity and professionalism to help keep the focus on you and not what’s behind you. It’s okay if people can see where you are if the room is neat and uncluttered.
Look at everything around you. Remove offensive artwork, desk calendars, mugs, and anything else that might contain a questionable phrase or image. What might be funny to you could be insulting to someone else.
A Real Background is Best
Virtual Zoom backgrounds are fun but can be problematic. Not only are some of them obvious (we know you’re not sitting on a tropical beach), but they can also make the image look strange due to clashing colors. A less risky option is to use your real background or place a foam board with a logo behind you.
2. Preparing Your Technology
Follow the Light
Natural light is the best kind of light for on-camera meetings if you can position yourself with the light facing your front rather than your back. If natural light is not an option, there are several different video conference lighting products available that allow you to brighten and soften light as needed so you can eliminate shadows to look fresh faced and well-lit on camera. Don’t forget to clean the camera lens!
Turn off Audio Distractions
Silence or turn off digital programs that send out alerts, including email and Slack. Internal laptop mics work fine, but if you prefer headphones, wireless ear buds are a good choice. They look better visually and eliminate the sound of wires shifting against your clothing.
Check Your Settings
While it’s fun to laugh at others’ video mishaps, we’re all secretly hoping not to be the next one that falls victim to the cat filter. Check your settings to ensure the correct name and company appears under your image and filters are turned off.
3. Preparing Yourself
Make Eye Contact with the Lens
Watching and hearing ourselves on video is not a natural thing, which only adds to the distraction of wondering where to look and who to look at. Focusing directly on the camera lens while you’re talking will show that you’re making eye contact with everyone.
Sit Up Straight
Posture matters! Avoid slumping in the chair or resting your head on your chin. Keep reminding yourself that you’re in a meeting, not watching TV. Ensure the camera lens is at eye level or slightly above to prevent looking down and allowing others to view you from below.
Apply the same level of professionalism to your home wardrobe as you would if you were walking into an in-person meeting or media interview. Just like if you were in a TV studio, it helps to avoid wearing black, white, or loud patterns. Blues are always a safe bet.
With professional boundaries blurred, partners, colleagues, and media can glimpse into our lives, whether we want them to or not. Our environment is part of the message, so how you present yourself in virtual meetings and interviews is just as important as what you say.