By Loyd McIntosh
The COVID-19 era has forced businesses far and wide to get up to speed technologically, and in a hurry, specifically when it comes to mastering the art of the video conference. By this point, the video conference is a regular part of our day and the brand Zoom, for many of us, is now a verb. Whether you're chatting in a one-on-one job interview or part of a video meeting with multiple people, here are some helpful tips and points of etiquette to help you nail your next video conference like a pro.
body language & eye contact
First, pay attention to how you present yourself physically and place your computer in a position that helps you maintain good posture and eye contact throughout the conference. Laptop webcams typically view participants from a low angle which breaks the illusion of face-to-face contact. Position your camera at eye level by placing your laptop on top of a box, stack of books, or other elevated surfaces to meet the other party at eye level. Additionally, the camera should be about arm’s length away, just about the same amount of space there might be if you were in the same room with the other person before social-distancing became the norm.
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Additionally, motion in the camera frame can be distracting. Try not to shift your weight or move around too much during your conference. Also, practice active listening and focus on the camera lens as if you were looking right into the other person’s eyes. Also, if you're leading a discussion, pay attention to how often you glance at your notes. Looking down to your notebook or printed presentation once in a while is no big deal, but if you find you do this too much, try placing sticky notes with bullet points at eye level directly below or to the side of the camera lens.
Location & Lighting
Good lighting allows you to be seen clearly. If you can, position a light source in front of the location you’ll be recording from and face a window with adjustable shades. If you’re in a space without windows or if it's dark outside, place another light source a few feet in front of you at eye level. Also, try to avoid light from above, behind, or beneath your camera in order to prevent looking washed out.
Lastly, give yourself enough space to be framed properly on the screen avoiding too much space above your head and avoid areas with too much clutter in the shot or noise in the background. Try to find an area with an interesting background featuring objects like artwork, bookcases, or plants, to broadcast a clutter-free, clean, professional appearance.
Keep in mind video cameras change the way colors and patterns appear on the screen. Notice how television news anchors avoid wearing white, because it catches too much light, and seldom wear clothing with a pattern because it tends to “jump” and “zig-zag.” Better choices for a video are solid, pastel, or bright colors.
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Lastly, don't forget to smile! Research shows that the simple act of smiling generates positive feelings toward, helps build trusting relationships, and helps a meeting run more smoothly and have more positive outcomes.