Hey there, meeting master. We’ve got a reality check for you: Your real-world, face-to-face interaction abilities might not be enough to get you through a video conference.
If you really want to be better, to be all you can be, there are considerations like technical stuff, hardware and new social dynamics…the list goes on. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to throw you off your stride, not with our top tips.
1. Come to the light
The difference between looking like yourself or like a featureless, dark silhouette to everyone on a video conference might be the lighting. Try and make sure you’re facing or side-on to light sources like windows, lamps, or mankind’s old pal, the sun, so you can be seen.
2. Smartly casual
You might be on your lonesome, but dressing appropriately for a video call, i.e. not going for the button-up shirt and pyjama trouser combo, can save your blushes should you have to stand up from your desk during your meeting or if your standalone webcam suddenly wants a lie-down on the carpet.
3. Eye catching
When you talk, your typical video call poses you a tricky dilemma: Do you look at the camera so, for the participants, it looks like you’re making eye contact with them (even though you’re just staring at a lens), or at the image on the screen? Typically, you’re advised to go for the former; it’s more personal.
4. Name that sound
The nature of built-in computer microphones means what might sound like unnoticeable background noise to you, such as the humming of a laptop fan or the din of ringing phones, can be akin to the sound of an impending apocalypse for other users. Try to go somewhere quiet and lower the volume of things like computer alerts. Consider putting mobile phones on silent as well as muting your microphone when you’re not speaking.
5. Forward thinking
Assuming you’re not wanting to utilise the element of surprise, send out any links you’re wanting people to visit during your meeting early. It gives them a chance to have them loaded up beforehand and reduces the likelihood of one person’s slow connection holding everyone up.
6. In glorious technicolor
Yes, yes, that ironic Christmas jumper is hilarious, but its glaringly bright colours can make it hard for your camera to focus on you. The same goes for less busy but equally intense solid-shades. Go for calmer, middle-of-the-road colours or pastels.
7. Easy on the eye
Take a look at things like font size if you’re going to be showing PowerPoint slides. If other people’s screens are smaller than yours or there’s a whole group of people looking at one monitor somewhere, your 10pt Comic Sans (N.B. people don’t like Comic Sans) might be tricky to read. Try 24pt for main text and 36pt for headers.
8. Games master
Staring at a group of strangers’ faces can be awkward and intimidating for some people, who may be less forthcoming with their input. If your participants aren’t too straight-laced, you could do an ice-breaker. A simple ‘true or false’ question works well - each participant says three things about themselves, two true and one false. Everyone else has to confer to guess which was false.
9. Testing, testing…1, 2, 3…
Run a test to see that everything’s working in terms of your camera and microphone ahead of time by making a test call. If you’re hosting, open the programme early and get things running. That way, if there are any problems that need fixing, it won’t encroach on the valuable time that everyone’s set aside for the conference
10. You have the floor
When the conversation really gets flowing, some people can find it hard to get a word in; folk talking over one another might make things hard to follow. Unlike in a audio call, you have the ability to see one another - take advantage. The group could use a visual cue, like holding their hand near to the camera, when they want to say something.