Whenever you have an online video conference or a training webinar, private or professional, we have never been more remotely connected than now. Especially when your online session is work related there are a few points to remember and consider when hosting or even participating in a video conference.
Although video conferences have been around for a while, we are now more than ever, spending many hours connected with or without video to virtual meetings. Below are a few tips to remember when hosting or even just participating in a videoconference.
Without technology, none of this remote work environment would even be possible. Even if your laptop is not the newest or you only have those old headphones, you have been using for the last decade, it is important to have some basic tech equipment. A working microphone and webcam are really the basics. If you have some pennies left and especially if you are looking to host video conferences regularly, I highly recommend investing in a webcam and a wireless microphone. No one wants to see pixeled delayed video or listen to constantly breaking up audio.
Before the start of a virtual video call I cannot stress enough on testing your equipment first or at least try to join early enough so you can sort those settings up before the start. Many people have more than just one online call that day and might not want to waste their time waiting on someone to get their video camera working.
YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH APPS
Sometimes we do not seem to have full control over video and audio setting or somehow, they suddenly from one day to another stop working. To reduce or even avoid this problem, I always download the respective application.
Often you will be able to join directly via web browser but in the past, I have experienced that in this case, you might get limited control or reduced functions availability.
Having the software will ease the whole joining and connection process and if you are operating as a Host you should always use the client software available. Additionally, it makes scheduling and inviting easier and much quicker.
SET THE STAGE
Some platforms also have plugins which you can integrate in your mailing tool making invitations and scheduling even easier.
Not everyone has a fancy penthouse or designer office to show off in the background, but still it is important to keep an eye on your surrounding when sharing video. This is independent from the fact that you are working from an office or from home, remember we can all see what is happening in the background.
Rule number one is having a good light source coming ideally natural day light if possible, from the front or alternatively from the side. Try to avoid a light source coming from the back.
Regarding the background, you might want to re-consider the painting choice on the wall or all those merry Christmas cards you got from your colleagues 10 months ago. A neutral background, if possible, will already do the trick.
You can also use your background to deliberately show off specific items or pictures. For instance, during partner meeting you could place that one marketing posters right behind your or that one trophy you won as best employee of the company.
Some newer laptops have a virtual background option included were you can adapt the background we see to a pictures, brand or logo. It is always a good laughter if someone is suddenly located at a beautiful beach with palm trees or next to the Eiffel tower, this can be a good icebreaker at the beginning. But you can also set a blurry or standard office picture to place you in a busy working space although you are working from home and you want to hide your messy kitchen. Sometime the virtual background option has not a very high resolution due to your hardware, in this instance I recommend buying a green screen. They are not that expensive and can easily be folded up. Definitely ads some professionalism when hosting video conferences or webinars.
All in all, always check what other will be able to see when you share your video, so you are not taken off guard. Try to keep your background tidy. No one wants to see your pyjama bottoms or that undone bed in the back.
If I could, I would definitely have an On-Air Sign lightning up every time I am in a videoconference.
Especially when you work from home and are not living on your own, it has happened to all of us at least once that you see that one person, kid or pet running through the picture in the back. It might make everyone laugh, having your other half shouting what’s for lunch in the middle of an important virtual meeting but it can also be very embarrassing. Therefor what I do to avoid those situations, I make sure I tell my partner before I start that I will be in a virtual meeting with audio a video and make sure my cats have been fed. I also try to find a quiet spot, ideally in another room and close the door. I know kids or other flat mates might not be as understanding but, in this case, communicating beforehand is the key and might help.
No beauty contest has yet been won completely virtually but still your appearance is important. It has happened many times that a session wasn’t planned with video and then suddenly everyone has their webcam on when joining the call. You can take the risk of just dressing your upper body accordingly with a shirt do your hair and makeup, but it might happen that unexpectedly you have to get up and everyone sees those pyjama bottoms or boxer shorts. In this case always try to dress up completely.
Also, for the ladies out there, check that if you do your nails, both of your hands are done and not just one or try to avoid painting your nails while in a session. It just shows that you have not been very attentive if at the beginning you started the session with unvarnished nails and end up with red velvet ones at the end.
Again, check yourself in the webcam view before joining a session. Like mentioned before, check out the light source, where it comes from so you are not “sitting in the dark” or try to avoid wearing very flashy colours or certain colour tones as they might interfere with your virtual background or camera view in general.
Also, to avoid that double chin and dark eye circles look, because you have to look down at your video cam, place the webcam at least at the height of your face so you are looking straight into it. If you have a laptop you can get those laptop stands and use a wireless keyboard and mouse. Alternatively, you can place your laptop on a stack of books. This setup is anyways better for your posture and eyes if you work many hours in front of a computer.
As you can see there is not really that much that you have to do which is impossible but quite a lot that could go wrong and put you in an embarrassing situation. Sometime those situations help to get closer to your colleagues or work partners as they only make us human, but to avoid any unnecessary delays or awkward situations try to test and checkout your surrounding before joining a video conference.