How to Nail your Next Video Meeting
With everyone working from home these days, many of us need to get up to speed on video meetings and calls ASAP. As someone who conducts most of my meetings by video, I’ve seen it all, from a prospective vendor sitting in her professionally lit office to a VA wearing her pajamas sitting in the midst of her messy bedroom. (No I didn’t hire her). I’ve also made my own share of mistakes.
For many, working from home is new and has its pros and cons. I have worked half my career in the office and half at home. Working at the office can help segregate work life and home, I found in some ways it was easier to focus, but as a homebody, I do prefer being at home, though I do feel cooped up sometimes.
Whether we like it or not, we are all working from home, and now our co-workers and others can see into what was once our private sanctum. Here’s another bummer: You need to consider your appearance as well. I’ve assembled a few best practices to help you make a great impression, help you maintain your privacy and your professionalism during your next video meeting. Before your next call, take a little time out to plan.
8 Essential Tips for your Next Video Meeting:
- Finding the ideal location in your home: Finding a well lit spot where you are less likely to be interrupted or distracted is key. Sit facing a window, if possible. If a window is not available, place a table lamp (do not remove the shade) in front of you to add extra light. Test your lighting, and the height of your camera so you are nicely centered in and evenly lit with no shadow across your face.
- Limit interruptions: Make sure your housemates know you will be on a call, ensure children are content and pets are out of the way.
- Tidy the space behind you or make use of a background feature if you prefer to keep your home private; some of us may prefer not to share our homes with our co-workers. Zoom and Skype both offer background options, which allow you to blur the background, or add a virtual background. If you choose to use a virtual background, be sure to choose something neutral to avoid distraction.
- Dress “appropriately” for video conferencing or meetings is as important as it is in the office. Wear light daytime makeup, and neutral colors; blue looks especially good on camera. Avoid bright colors, and stripes as both vibrate on camera and can be very distracting. Some colors, like fuchsia can appear purple or blue, so beware; you don’t want to look as if you have blue lips. Make sure to take a look at yourself on screen to make sure you look amazing. The best news is that you can wear joggers or leggings on the bottom and no one will be the wiser, unless you have to stand up, which leads to the next tip:
- Have your notes handy: Make sure you have your notes and materials at your fingertips just like at work so you project the same polished image you do at work, especially if you are wearing something informal such as shorts, pajama bottoms or joggers. All the video meeting tips above fall by the wayside if you stand up and your whole office sees you in your pajamas or worse, your underwear.
- Set Meeting Reminders: I find using my calendar’s meeting reminder feature a Godsend, especially when I’m working at home. It’s so easy to get absorbed in my work and forget meetings, so I set a reminder a half hour before the meeting so I have ample time to prepare my space for a call, get all my paperwork together and make sure my lighting is set. I also go back and check the directions for the meeting. Some people use Skype, others, Zoom. Some want me to call them, others arrange to set up the call. Once I sat on Google Hangouts while the person I was supposed to meet with was over on Zoom.
- Do a test run: I still do this! Before the video meeting, I make sure my Zoom or Skype app is loaded, up to date, and ready to go. Nothing is worse than discovering your Skype is not up to date and you have to fix it before you take the call. I’ve had that happen! Make sure you know how to work the app, and how to log in before the meeting.
- Head phones, are a good thing: Here at the Casa, everyone has to use headphones when we are on the phone. We do it because all three of us are working and taking calls and are often on at the same time. I find it helps me hear the caller better and affords them privacy. It’s far less distracting when you only have to hear half of a conversation when you have more than one person in your home.
A couple of additional things to consider: as I researched this post, a story broke regarding security breaches at Zoom. The company says it is trying to remedy the issue. However, the servers are located in the People’s Republic of China which is a concern to some. The company does offer an encrypted feature; I haven’t used it nor do I know how it works. I just wanted to put that out there in the event you might want to make a different choice.