This era of working from home (WFH) has seen millions of workers adapt to using new technology, resulting in video conferencing platforms seeing demand for their products escalate exponentially. Now, although we can’t, and probably don’t all want to look like Huw Edwards or Sophie Raworth, here are some tips on looking professional in a video conference from the confines of your home.
Make your home look like your office
The increase in the use of virtual video meetings has resulted in the rise of a new phenomenon, one you have probably viewed online and hopefully not actually featured in any. Yes, you guessed it, those video conference calls that didn’t quite go according to plan. From pets running amok in the background to unexpected entrances by family members, all of which are highly amusing to watch but can be extremely embarrassing for the person trying to remain calm and professional during the midst of an important meeting with colleagues, clients or the boss.
To make sure you don’t become the next star on You Tube there are certain precautions you can take. Start by telling your family or housemates that you mustn’t be disturbed for the next hour or so. Locking the door is the obvious answer when you have a meeting but if this isn’t possible there is no need to worry because we have another solution.
You can select a virtual background to mask any chaos in the room and this is fine for video calls with colleagues but probably not appropriate if you have a video conference with clients. Therefore, for the latter type scenario you should ask your company to send you a corporate branded background to portray a professional image and give your brand some exposure. This can either be in the form of roller banners or as a branded virtual background.
Lights, camera, action…
You may feel that your built-in webcam doesn’t provide the best picture quality and it probably doesn’t matter for internal meetings but if you want to project a professional image to clients then you should purchase a high definition, external webcam.
Lighting is another important visual aspect to consider and you should avoid fluorescent and overhead lights which can be harsh and unflattering and make sure your primary light source is behind your webcam.
Dress appropriately, just because you are not in your office does not mean you don’t have to wear smart clothes, especially when video calling clients. How you look and not just what you say can influence your clients decisions.
Remember during the call to stay attentive throughout, regardless of how many participants are involved with the meeting. If you want to talk, timing is key so wait for a pause of a few seconds in the meeting before making your valuable contribution. Also, when you speak be sure to maintain eye contact and avoid staring at how you look in the bottom corner of the screen.
Crystal clear communication
You have probably been on a conference call when the audio hasn’t been that clear and it gets embarrassing asking people to repeat themselves or having to do so yourself. Clarity is especially important if you are selling or teaching online and because most laptops don’t have the best audio quality, look at investing in a clip on microphone, which cost less than £20 and will eradicate any such problems.
You may feel the need to wear earbuds or a noise cancelling headset, again this shouldn’t be an issue for meetings with colleagues but try to avoid if possible when video calling customers.
Another audio tip for video conferencing is to click the mute icon when not speaking. This ensures you are not responsible for any background noise picked up by your colleagues or clients. Nobody wants to be distracted by you typing frantically on your keyboard or rustling through paperwork desperately looking for answers to questions you should have planned before the meeting. And if you have prepared for the meeting then you can take advantage of the screenshare facility to showcase your hard work and to ensure what you are communicating is fully understood.
And of course, don’t forget to unmute the microphone before you start speaking – I know it sounds obvious, but you’ll be surprised at how often this happens, and you don’t want to turn an important meeting into a game of charades.
Face to face meetings are obviously the best form of communication and the most productive. However, considering the current climate and fantastic technology, virtual meetings really are the next best thing. Even when the business world returns to normal, companies that hadn’t contemplated using video conferencing platforms before the lockdown will definitely continue to use them.
For more Business Butler Blogs, click here.