A video meeting is such a simple communication tool. However, I have seen shared images and short clips of video calls that have gone wrong, from people taking the laptop to the bathroom thinking the camera was switched off to family members wandering in the background in their pyjamas (or less).
Most people over the past few months have used video conferencing tools in their workplace. It may be that you have used Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meetup, WhatsApp, or Facebook’s Video Rooms. I must admit, when we started back in March doing our sales team video meetings via Microsoft Teams it was a little uncomfortable, not because it was anything negative, but simply because it was new. The software itself was easy to use and very intuitive. The awkward thing at the beginning was being on camera all of the time. At first, when we had our meetings there was a real mix of visuals with some colleagues choosing not to switch on their camera, some with their camera focused on the side of their faces and others where we could only see the top or bottom half of their head. Some had poor lighting quality and others were very far away. In early May, The City Bin Co. Sales Team and department managers participated in a video training course for best practices in video calls presented by Kim Slade from Touch Video Academy. Kim shared some simple skills and tips for having more professional video etiquette and increasing confidence while attending online video meetings. The difference in our video meetings before and after the session with Kim was striking. It was worlds apart. For me, there were three noticeable changes:
Camera positioning: Everybody now has their camera on and has it positioned at eye level. I bought an adjustable laptop stand on Amazon that raised my laptop to the appropriate height. Some people used a stack of books to get the camera where it needed to be. A secondary plus in having the screen and camera at eye level was that I was sitting up correctly in my chair giving me a more supportive sitting position. Now when the team is attending an online meeting, we are all at eye level and it feels more natural. We all look like we could host the Evening News!
Good Lighting: Another learning is lighting. Before, I used to sit with a window behind me. This created a very dark image on the screen for others. Now I sit in front of a window which gives great natural light. One of my colleagues uses a lamp that gives the same effect. When you have good lighting on your face you can be seen clearly.
Microphones Manners: I use a Jabra Evolve 65 headset as it has noise cancelling technology built-in. This is very handy as my wife and children are going about their daily lives too. At the end of the day, the kids must be able to play and I have to make sure that the customers have a great experience. Also, using the microphone mute button is so important to everybody on the call when somebody else is speaking.
The one thing that does give me a laugh on video meetings is the numerous times a day I hear ‘You’re on mute!’ or “Sorry, go ahead, no, you go ahead!”
Although there were some online moments posted around the world of meetings with people caught in embarrassing situations while attending their work meetings, personally and thankfully, I haven’t experienced them. Simple guidelines such as the above can help to keep both the communication and the video professional.
To summarise, keep the camera at eye level, get the lighting right so people can see you, and use the mute and unmute button. Also, I suggest you find a quiet space to sit, shut the door, and make sure you have an uncluttered plain background. You want the other person on the call focused on you and what you’re saying and not distracted by all of the things that you have in the background. You have to think of a video meeting as you would a professional face-to-face meeting and conduct yourself as you would if you were present with the people in the same room. The same first impression counts and, on video, every impression counts, particularly when it can be recorded and shared.