While video conferencing is an excellent tool, like any other new bit of technology or business practice, there are lots of little mistakes that can slow down or hinder the effectiveness of the call. We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to ensure that the experience is not only great for you, but great for everyone involved. Read on.
Set the Stage Properly
Leave the artsy angles, the black and white noir film grainy filter, and the high contrast lighting for your social media. If you’re going to be hosting a video conference, your screen should look like a professional photo, well-lit and usually around the bust line. If you need a guideline, aim for the bottom of the image to hit you around the middle of the ribcage, and make sure the top doesn’t crop off your head. Try to fit comfortable in the center third of the frame. As for lighting, you want it to be very easy for all the members of the call to see you, so it’s important to have moderate lighting. Too bright can cause harsh shadows, make you squint uncomfortably, or make your facial features fade or appear washed out. Too dark or too little lighting can make your surroundings look like a sinister haze that blends in with your body. Aim for an ambient light, natural if you can get it, that fills the whole room comfortably plus perhaps a small lamp to the side and behind the computer. For a more detailed tutorial on making the ideal lighting at home, check this tutorial for staging professional photographs at home.
Do a Practice Run
Taking the time to really get to know both the equipment you’ll be using and how long any presentations or visual guides you will be using will take to execute can go a long way towards making the meeting as smooth and efficient as possible. Whether it’s your first or fifty-first video conference, it’s always a good idea to do a test run to make sure that all of your hardware and software are working as they should be. This is especially true if you’re hosting or joining the conference call from outside the office, such as in a hotel room on the road or from the comfort of your own home. You should be able to test most of the hardware, such as webcams or microphones, on your own as well as being able to tell how you look on screen, but asking a coworker or two to join you in a conference call will help ensure success and can be a great time to get familiar with your broadcasting software, especially ones made for video group Conferencing like BlueJeans. Software and hardware problems can be very easy to fix, but any issues with them that arise unexpectedly can really affect the overall quality and success of the call. Even if the issue is minor and easily repaired, having to scramble for a solution while you are in front of dozens, if not hundreds of industry professionals and clients can cause a lot of stress. Here, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Take Your Time
Even though one of the biggest benefits to video conference calls is the ability to call in from nearly any location at nearly any time, which makes this method of having any sort of meeting as convenient as possible, it should still always be a very high priority for you to respect the busy schedules of everyone in the call. A very large part of this is making a strict time budget for your part of any presentation or meeting and doing your best to stick to that allotted time. This can be moderately easy when you have a speech or a specific topic to inform or present to the rest of the participants in the meeting, as taking the opportunity of the practice runs above to carefully time your presentation can help you accomplish two goals at the same time. HowToGeek offers an excellent tutorial on how to time your PowerPoint slides, but even if it’s just a short speech you should have a good sense of how long it takes you. For either a presentation or a more free form group discussion or brainstorming session, having notes or an itinerary of topics and points you need to accomplish during the meeting is also an excellent idea for staying on track. If you’d like to avoid any extra clicking around between tabs that can be annoying if your schedule is on your computer, consider going old school and having a printed copy with you. If you’re at your house, a hotel or any other place where it would be convenient, having the paper taped or pinned to the wall directly above and behind your webcam can be an excellent visual reminder of what needs to be accomplished without constantly looking down. Lastly, give yourself some breathing room by arriving early to the call, and maintaining professionalism for a few minutes after the call ends just in case you’re still on the line.