COVID-19 has forced many of us to start using video calls for work meetings, presentations and even job interviews. Businesses have realised that video calls can facilitate agile working and reap many benefits. Navigating a video call, however, can be tricky especially if you don’t have much experience. Here are some ideas to help you look professional, get the most out of them, and even start enjoying them.
Ideally find a quiet place to take the call and use headphones to minimise any background noise.
Wi-fi and power
- Ensure you have a good wi-fi connection. The closer you are to the router the greater the speed and strength. Alternatively use a home-plug or wireless access points to improve the quality of your internet connection in other areas of your house.
- Turn-off high-definition video, as this takes up considerably more band-width.
- Make sure your device is fully charged or plugged in before the video call starts.
- Prior to making a call test your audio clarity and volume to ensure you can be heard easily.
- Speak clearly, at your normal volume and speed.
- When you are not speaking mute your microphone as background noise can be distracting and hinder the flow of conversation.
- Conversely ensure your microphone is on when delivering important information.
- Place your webcam at around eye level and in front of you, so it looks like you are looking at the person you are talking to. Don’t sit too close or far away and have your head and shoulders in view. Avoid strange camera angles that can be unflattering and distracting.
- Most webcams will enable reasonable video conferencing but to get the best experience you can choose cameras with a wide-angle lens and high-quality video and audio for optimum results.
- Look into the camera and not at yourself.
- Natural light creates the best effect for video calls, and if this is not possible use a central light or a lamp facing you from behind your computer
- Your backdrop will reflect your brand. Keep it in line with your company image and remember a simple background will enable people to focus better on you.
- If you don’t have time to ensure a professional looking backdrop set up a virtual background.
- Wear appropriate clothing that you would normally wear in your workplace. Choose strong dark colours and avoid patterned clothing and elaborate jewellery, which can be distracting.
During a call
- Keep focused and pay attention so people in the meeting see that you are engaged and interested.
- Don’t work or attend to emails during the call.
- Greet the group and introduce yourself unless everyone knows you well.
When to speak
- Compared to in-person meetings it is more difficult to read the visual cues so it is easy to interrupt. Wait a few moments before speaking in case of time delays. Alternatively agree a visual cue with the group such as putting up your hand when you want to speak.
- If you’re running the meeting you can call on each person to speak to avoid interruptions and to enable everyone to speak.
- To get the most out of a meeting that is longer than 10 minutes create an agenda. This allows people to prepare beforehand and will facilitate more valuable contributions as well as balancing out the input.
- If you have regular team meetings via video consider rotating the management of the meeting to enhance collaboration and engagement. It can also help build confidence across the whole team.
- At the start of the meeting check that everyone’s audio visual is working and that everyone is ready to begin.
- Nominate a facilitator for each meeting to keep the meeting focused and in-line with the agenda, ensure objectives are achieved, and that everyone’s voice is heard.
- If you need to share a document on the video call warn participants there may be a delay, so they don’t think they have lost connection.
- If you are going to share your screen during a call, prepare it beforehand to ensure your desktop doesn’t show any sensitive or private information.
With the right technology in place, and good practice, video calls can be made bearable, and can even be enjoyable. They can, however, be more intense and tiring than face to face meetings and so they should be time-limited, with appropriate intervals so people have an opportunity to recover before the next one.
For any technical advice about working from home please contact us on 01603 451810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.