Business Skills, Networking

6 ways to improve your video conferences

Video conferences and meetings are here to stay. Prior to March, I took part in many virtual webinars and my involvement was usually as an observer with access to the chat room only. Now, I’m much more comfortable engaging on video and interacting in real time with people all over the country. We still use the chat function but video allows us to have actual conversations and better connections.

There are many video conferencing options out there but some popular tools are:

  • Zoom
  • Slack
  • Skype
  • Webex
  • GoToMeeting
  • Ringcentral

Recently, I have had Zoom happy hours with my friends, I’ve done business networking, had a private one on one video call and even had a panel of people interview me for a job all via video conferencing. I have changed my style over time and I am getting more comfortable.

In order to up my video conferencing game, I’ve concentrated on these six things:

Lighting should be the first thing to consider when trying to decide where to sit during your next video meeting. Make sure that your light source is in front of you – preferably slightly above you or from both sides. You might want to consider getting two lamps that are placed in front of you and position them so that they shine on either side of your face, eliminating shadows. Natural lighting is actually the best, and obviously most natural appearing light source, so consider participating in your video meeting while sitting in front of a large window. Avoid any situations where the main source of light is behind you as you’ll just appear in shadow.

Avoid sitting where your main light source is behind you as you’ll appear in shadow
  • Eliminate distractions in the background. Some people suggest that a plain or neutral background is best such as a white or grey wall. People should focus on the discussion and not what books are on the bookshelves behind you.
  • Technology – test your technology before you jump on the conference. Consider using a separate webcam and microphone instead of the camera and microphone in your laptop. Also, your laptop is a better option than your phone. People have a tendency to move their phone around unless it’s on a stationary tripod. A laptop is much more stable than your phone. Having said that, make sure that your laptop is in a flattering position. Place the camera at eye level by placing your laptop on a box, or something similar, so that it is higher than desk level. Try to avoid having to look down at the camera as that might result in a view up your nose or produce the dreaded double chin.
  • Look at the camera not at the screen. I admit that this definitely takes practice and I am, personally, working on this. Looking at the camera presents as eye contact to others on the call. You appear to be looking down, or elsewhere, when you focus on the person who is speaking on the screen.
  • Here’s the biggest one. No multi-tasking! Our brains can only handle so much input at one time. Eliminate distractions by shutting your phone and other technology off. Close the open tabs on your laptop as well. If you are the host and you see that the participants are busy doing other things you can ask them direct questions or give them a task to do so that they refocus on the meeting.
Try not to multitask when you are on a video call
(istock stock image)

Relax! Sometimes speaking on these video calls can be awkward but it will get easier the more video meetings that you attend. Renata Mazu, an Intuitive Growth Coach, hosts weekly, sometimes daily, Zoom calls with her clients. To avoid freezing up, her advice is to speak like you are sitting next to the people in the video conference .

Improving your video conferencing experience can encourage you to stay connected, it might bring you business, or even result in a new career! At a minimum, you will be more comfortable and confident when communicating by video.

Do you have any advice on improving your video conferencing? Please comment below.

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