By Kim ODonnell
10 top tips for professional video conferences
Video conferencing rose to popularity during the Covid pandemic and are a useful tool for connecting teams, meeting with clients, and conducting interviews remotely. Below are our ten top tips for keeping video conferences professional.
- Assess the lighting
Good lighting is vital to great video as being well-lit helps make your picture appear clearer and allows virtual backgrounds to function better without any weird glitching. Ideally, you should place the light source in front of you; bringing in a desk lamp or positioning your webcam in front of a window can work wonders. The golden rule is to make sure there is more light in front of you than behind.
- Mute distractions
Turning off everything that could result in a distracting “ping” ensures you and others on the call stay focused. Emails, instant messaging apps, and social media platform sounds will ring through to everyone else on the call so it’s best to sign out of everything to minimize the risk. The same also goes for your mobile phone, smartwatch, and any other tech that makes a sound. Remove it from the room or turn notifications off.
- Check your headroom
Too much or too little space above your head on video can be distracting as you won’t be centered in the frame correctly. When setting up your webcam check your headroom by making sure there are two to three finger-widths of space at the top of your head. This places you nicely in the center of the frame and should result in your eyes lining with the webcam.
- Make yourself presentable
Just because it’s a video conference doesn’t mean it’s not important to make yourself presentable. In the same way as you would do your hair and make-up for an in-person meeting take the same time to prepare for a video call. Bold, solid colors tend to translate well and if you’re not sure how formal to go, business casual is usually a safe bet. Be sure to check your appearance before every call to make sure you’re still looking your best.
- Check your background
Making yourself presentable also extends to your background, it’s important to make sure anything behind you isn’t going to pull focus and influence their perception of you. It’s best to keep the backdrop as plain as possible, if you don’t have a blank wall to sit in front of try hanging an old sheet or using a virtual background. Professional virtual backgrounds can be a great way of making sure you’re the main focus of the video.
- Be prepared
Write down any questions you may want to ask so that you don’t go blank in the heat of the moment. It’s also a good idea to prepare answers to any questions you feel others on the call may ask as it removes the requirement for you to think on your feet, thereby ensuring you come off as cool, calm, and collected. We also strongly suggest letting others in the household know that you will be attending an important video conference so that they don’t run the risk of bursting in and disturbing you. After all, this is a serious meeting, not family happy hour!
- Treat it the same as in-person
If you’re conducting a video interview as an employer one of the biggest challenges is giving potential employees a feel of their future office environment. One way around this hurdle is to pre-record a short office walk-about that can be shared either during the interview, sent ahead of time, or as part of the follow-up process for those you want to proceed to the next stage.
- Eye contact matters
Eye contact is one of the hardest things to manage when it comes to video conferences as it feels natural to look at the person you’re addressing. Be mindful of the fact you could be speaking to people who are in a position on your screen that wildly differs from that of your webcam. With that in mind, we suggest looking directly into the camera whenever answering or asking a question to give the impression of maintaining eye contact.
- Research the platform
Although Zoom is arguably the largest platform currently in use there are a number of others you may be required to connect via. Take some time to research the platform being used to ensure you understand how it works and minimize the risk of running into technical issues on the day. Sign in before your allotted time if possible.
- Check the quality
The picture and sound quality of your existing setup may no longer be suitable as many older laptops and PCs came with lower quality built-in equipment than what is available today. Ask a friend or family member to do a test run with you to make sure they can see and hear you properly and invest in good quality equipment if yours isn’t up to standard. Webcams and microphones don’t cost as much as you might think and can make all the difference on an important video call.