Once upon a time, video conferencing was reserved for executive boardrooms that required a whole team of technical staff to support it. Now-a-days with technology improvements, high-quality video meetings are available via cloud-based services on laptops, smartphones and tablets for almost anyone to use anywhere.
Make sure your space is “video conference” ready
When joining a video conference, remember that other attendees will be able to see you and everything around you in the room. With this in mind, position yourself in front of a solid colored wall and remove any unneeded clutter within the frame of the video to remove distractions. Common distractions can include televisions within sight, a window with a view of a busy street or a digital clock that counts the seconds. If you are lucky enough to have a window in your room, be sure that the shades are drawn in order to remove the silhouette-effect that happens when natural light is shining in behind you.
Don’t be a video giant!
A lot of webcams are now built-in to laptops, which is great for portability and ease of use. However, it does not always make for the most flattering camera angles during video conferences. In order to not be a “video giant” where all attendees are looking up at you (and sometimes up your nose), it’s best to position your camera at eye level. For the optimal experience, position the camera arms-length away from you while seated. If you’re a walker (and move around during meetings), be sure to adjust your webcam appropriately when you stand up and take one big step away from your webcam in order to minimize the giant effect.
Make eye contact
Video conferences add a new element to the traditional conference call – eye contact. Eye contact can instantly send a message of engagement and interest. If altogether missing, the lack of eye contact sends an entirely different message – one of disinterest and boredom. You don’t have to make eye contact during the entire meeting but regular eye contact is an important component to a successful video meeting. To make eye contact, you want to look directly into the lens of your webcam. This is sometimes counter-intuitive as the video conference may occupy the entire screen and your webcam is typically perched on top of your screen. As a best practice, if your video conference window is able to be resized, move the window to the top of your screen directly under your webcam and routinely (especially when you are speaking) look directly into the lens of the camera. This will come across as direct eye contact with all meeting attendees and improve the delivery of your message and the quality of the conversation that ensues.
Remember… you’re on camera
The benefit (and disadvantage) of video meetings is that both verbal and non-verbal actions are captured. For example if you receive unexpected news (from an email, co-worker, IM, etc.) during a video conference, even if you can mute your line so that you don’t share your displeasure orally, you still won’t be hiding your facial expressions and the visual reaction which you’ve now shared with everyone in the video conference. On the same token, multi-tasking is more difficult via video conferencing, so be wary of trying to do 3 things at once…everyone can tell you’re not paying attention. As a manager, this is a great reason to start introducing video meetings into the regular routine, especially with team members that telecommute.
So keep these tips in mind on your next video conference – now you’re ready for your close-up!