Especially now during the current COVID-19 pandemic, video meetings and video conferencing have become more important than ever in the professional world, vastly improving how we stay connected to each other and work together.
Though, not all of us may be entirely familiar with this sort of thing, which can make it stressful to meet the expectations of our coworkers or employers in this remote setting. However, the next time you have an important video conference, use these tips and practice so you can be confident and comfortable in front of your coworkers.
Pay Attention to What Other People Are Saying
When you’re in a video meeting, your focus should be on the actual meeting and not on other work. Not only is it actually difficult to effectively multitask, but it will look very rude to the others in the conference.
Close your email and other tabs and show that you’re focused and engaged in the meeting.
Look Into the Camera, Not Somewhere Else
Many people seem to make this mistake and not notice: they look at the video feed of other people on their monitor rather than the camera. It might make sense in your head to do this so you can get a gauge on the other members in the meeting, but in reality it only looks like you’re not paying attention. This gets in the way of looking professional, since you’ll appear detached or uninterested.
For any video conference you’re in, look directly at the camera. It has the same effect as looking into someone’s eyes when talking to them in person – it shows that you’re listening and that you care. Practice this enough so that you feel comfortable when doing it for real.
Make Sure Everything Is Working Before the Meeting
The worst thing that can happen during a video meeting (or, at least one of them) is that the whole thing gets interrupted because of some technical issue. This could be problems with the software you’re using (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.), your webcam, your sound system, and so on.
Before your next video conference, make sure to do a few test runs with your team (or just yourself, if you’ll only be talking to one other person) to make sure there are no delays during the real deal. If you find any problems, be sure to get help and fix things promptly.
Show Up On Time
This should be something you do for every meeting or conference, not just the video ones. In fact, it’s even more serious for video meetings, since there it’s so much easier for people to notice you coming in late.
Showing up late can be problematic, since the noise you make as you enter (or just you popping up in their video feed) becomes a huge distraction for everyone else. If people are presenting, then you’ll disrupt their flow and potentially cause them to mistake.
However, showing up on time is beneficial to both you and the other participants in the meeting. For one, you won’t be causing such a distraction by dropping in after everyone else has started. Moreover, it’ll be less stressful for those setting everything up for the conference, as there won’t be anything in the way of the meeting starting on time.
When You Aren’t Talking, Mute Yourself
While you might think you aren’t making much noise when you’re not speaking, smaller background noises like typing or coughing can be picked up by most microphones. As such, people will notice these sounds and possibly get annoyed, as they can be very distracting.
Regardless of what you have to do besides talking during your meeting, always turn off your mic when you do it so you don’t bother everyone else. Your fellow participants (like your team, your coworkers, and even your boss) will definitely appreciate it. At the same time, if you really feel that you have to multitask, at least it will be harder for people to call you out (you should always pay attention to the meeting, though).
Wear Clothing that Is Appropriate for Work
This is especially relevant now – for any video meetings you have, wear something professional. It can be really tempting to just wear a hoodie, but you’ll give a better impression by wearing something you would wear if the conference was actually in-person. You don’t have to go overboard, though, just wear what you normally would for work.
Make Sure Your Lighting Is Good
Before you have your meeting, it is essential to check the lighting in your room (or wherever you’re using your computer or laptop) to make sure it does not ruin the quality of your video feed. If there isn’t enough light where you are, your video quality will suffer, making it appear grainy and hard to look at. Try to avoid mixing natural light with artificial light (i.e. light bulbs), unless the bulbs you’re using are clear white.
Another important factor to consider is the location of the light and where it shines on you. For best results, try to have your light come in from the sides so your face is as clear as possible. Most of the time though, if you have enough light coming from the ceiling in your room or office, you should be fine.
Position Yourself And Your Camera Properly
Before entering a video meeting, always make sure to check how you look on video. You want to move your camera and position it so it feels and looks natural, all while letting you look at the camera comfortably.
Position yourself so that your eyes meet the camera (same level) and the video shows nothing below your chest. Don’t have it too high or too low – make sure everything is at the exact height and angle you want it.
Most of us have probably experienced an awkward video meeting at some point or another, and we may have even been the ones making mistakes. However, practicing these tips ahead of time can save you from a lot of trouble, and you can even give a good impression as a professional at your next video conference.