Setting up the right environment and paying attention to a few details will make you stand out from any digital crowd.
Virtual meetings used to be treated like prostheses of “real meetings,” but it is time to change this perception. A video conference may be as efficient as face to face interactions, but it requires a little bit more effort in the beginning.
1. №1 rule: TURN ON YOUR CAMERA
Whenever the call you are participating in has an active video option, it should be utilized. You should be video-ready unless not specified differently by the call organizer. If you are expected to join a video call, your camera should be set up and working correctly. It is polite to join the call with the video on and turn it off in case of any issues or while asked by the call organizer. Remember that seeing conversation partner improves the efficiency of communications.
2. Check your background
Don’t worry about the fridge or your living room in the background. It is ok to participate in the call from home, but make sure it is clean and tidy, at least behind your back. Noone expects fancy interior design in your home office, but it is better to remove your laundry-chair or pizza boxes from the area visible to your fellow meeting participants. Test your cam view before the call to make sure your background makes the right impression.
3. The source of light
Your face should be visible, and the whole image should be as clear as possible. The best possible set up should include the source of light behind your laptop. During the daytime, natural light from the window will do its job. Use a simple table lamp and place it behind your laptop after the dusk. Be careful with the ceiling light — the source of light above your head will make you look tired, emphasizing all shadows, especially those under your eyes. But the worst possible option is to have the source of light behind your back.
4. Choose the right frame
Whenever you are using your laptop webcam or a smartphone, you should remember to make your full face visible to the viewer. Additionally, you should place your camera in a way that allows you to present a bit of your upper body. What is the right frame? You should look like in the portrait pic — head and shoulders visible. This setup gives a bit of natural touch to the situation showing those parts of your body, which would be visible during a meeting behind a table.
Place the laptop so that the camera is at your eye level. Use a box or a pile of books. This way your face will be visible from the front, which is much more natural than popular chin-view appearing when the camera is lower than your eye-level.
5. Say ‘hi’
While entering an online meeting, behave like entering a conference room with people waiting for the meeting to begin. If you are not late, some of them are probably chatting with each other, some sit in silence and listen, some probably check their emails or Facebook notifications. You should signal your presence. However, try not to interrupt the conversation running. Give your name (and organization name if it is an external call), so the others know you. This would be handshake in office conditions.
“Hi, it’s Agata from DAC here :)”
And then wait for the facilitator to give you instructions.
6. Mute your mic
Most of the time, virtual meetings require to have several participants sharing knowledge or opinions one by one. While you are not speaking, there is no need to have the mic on. Remember to mute it when you finish speaking to save others from background noises from your house. Keep in mind to unmute yourself each time you wish to speak.
7. Clean your desktop
Depending on the subject of the call, you may be asked to show some code or presentation. Make sure that:
- you know how to share the screen through the app you are using and test it before the call,
- you don’t have any secret or embarrassing content in your desktop — you are at work during the call.
8. Test your connection quality and stability
Even making video calls from the office requires some preparation, and checking internet connection is one of them. The goal is to minimize the risk of unnatural interruptions during the call. Poor quality of your internet connection may be one of them. Make sure your wifi works and keep your phone close to be able to switch to a mobile hotspot at any time.
9. Pretend that everything is normal
The efficiency of a virtual meeting depends on several variables, like internet connection quality or software stability, which you don’t have control over. There is no need to get frustrated when something goes wrong. Overcoming technical issues should go as smoothly as possible and without influence on other participants. Virtual meetings, despite their popularity, still feel like something odd and out of the ordinary — compared to face to face interactions. However, the more attention you pay to the negatives of this solution, the more difficult it is to learn the proper way to use it. We need to learn new habits and unlearn old to get the most out of digital opportunities.
A virtual meeting is still a meeting. It’s up to you how much you get out of it