After doing many video conferences and helping clients set up their own webinars and video conferences, I decided to put together a sort of “cheat sheet”- if you will- on good practices for both presenting and attending. We all know it’s tough to have everything you need at home, but given that it’s now your office, it’s worth the effort to give the best impression you can. Here are some tips to help you with your video call etiquette.
If you are attending video calls on a regular basis, it’s best to get set up in the same area each time. Once you get things set up and adjusted, it will be easier to recreate those conditions each time if it’s the same space.
Pick a spot where you are out of the main flow, preferably in a closed room. Lighting is key, but sound is a close second.
If there’s one thing that fixes more problems than anything else, it’s having a wired connection instead of using Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi can work, but is much more susceptible to interruptions, lag and dropping. A good piece of cable connecting you to your network will give you a solid, speedy connection. Avoid using your phone- cell service is in most locations weaker than Wi-Fi and varies with the load on the cell tower. Remember a video call uses both cellular and data, so it’s not just bars you need.
If the room you are using has a window, try to keep it to your side or front. Natural light is great, but coming from behind you it puts you in shadow- get the light on your face.
If there isn’t a window, find a desk lamp or some other type of light to put behind your camera.
If the background is cluttered or busy (meaning having a lot of items, not a lot of traffic) then think about using a virtual background. If you have tried a virtual background and had problems with it cutting off parts of you, you probably need to fix your lighting. Also be aware that if you are using a virtual background and someone walks behind you, they may break through and show, so don’t use a virtual background to hide traffic.
Remember the camera is your guest, so treat it like you would someone who is actually in the room. Get it at eye level or a little higher, and place it between you and the light. If your guest is facing the light, they won’t be able to see you very well. The camera height is important. People don’t like to be looked down on, both figuratively and literally; having the camera sitting on the desk next to your computer makes them feel like a child looking up at you.
Good audio for both sides is critical to a smooth conversation, so having a solid mic arrangement is vital. Humans can detect as little as a tenth of a second of delay in an audio conversation! Most computers have an audio port that will accept a headset just like you would use with your phone. Almost all laptops have Bluetooth, which means you can use wireless Bluetooth headsets like AirPods or other hands-free devices. You’ll be able to hear better with these as well.
If you aren’t talking and there are more than a couple of people on the call, mute yourself. This reduces background audio, making the current speakers clearer and easier to hear. This also prevents issues with unexpected background noises.
If you want to make a quick comment, use tap to talk- many programs have a mechanism that unmutes you when you press and hold the spacebar. Releasing will re-mute you.
Let anyone in the house or office know when you will be on a call and ask them to stay away and keep the volume down, if possible. (Okay, maybe not the kids, because that’ll have them in there for sure.)
Dogs and cats are great, but they don’t get why you’re talking to your computer, or where those other people are- do them and you a favor and keep them out of the room during the call.
Find a picture you like and have it on your computer so you can use it as a replacement for your camera should something happen and/or you need to step away.
Make sure your name is correct; if you’re on a device that makes it difficult to change your name, ask one of the hosts to change your name for you.
Think of a video call as a seat at the physical meeting you would normally attend- don’t bring or do anything you wouldn’t at the in-person meeting.
Avoid doing the call from your car; you wouldn’t sit in your car at the regular meeting, so why at a video call?
Hopefully some of this helps you have a better video call! By all means, don’t hesitate to contact us for help with setting up to do a video call. If you don’t have a video conferencing account to use, we can help you get that set up as well.