I am a huge fan of David Letterman. I used to end my day watching and laughing to the various skits on his show. Sorry he is not on anymore. He was and is a class-act. One of my favorite skits was his weekly Top 10 lists. So I was thinking, with all of the videoconferencing taking place nowadays, I would share with you my top 10 list for working remote and conducting videoconferences.
When participating in a videoconference, keep your microphone on mute to avoid the transmission of any background noises. But Martin! I’m alone in the room. Yes I realize that, but computers generate background noise and they can be a distraction. I used to have a clock my parents gave me for Christmas. Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock went the clock and I had to take it down when someone on a video chat point out that is was a distraction.
Master your videoconferencing software and be aware of the audio and video settings at all times. We’ve all done this… we are talking away and someone interrupts us to inform us “Hey, your microphone is on mute.” I may have just delivered the best two minute monologue, but nobody heard it and I probably can’t remember what I said.
This is similar to Number 9 above. Make sure that you position your camera to maximize the video effect. Strange camera angles can be a distraction. If you are using a WebCam, the best placement is in the middle-top of the monitor at eye level so that as you’re looking directly into your monitor. Your participants have the perception that you’re actually talking to them. Plus the fact that a strange position of your WebCam can just be “unflattering” showing off body parts that you may not want to project on the videoconferencing.
Lighting is the key to a quality videoconference. Nobody wants to see shadows or dark video. Spend some time putting quality lighting into your conference. There are a number of LED lighting systems on the market now (Elgato is the brand that I use) that will produce brilliant, soft white light that will light up your videoconference and provide your viewers a much more pleasant experience.
Let’s talk about clothing. We all laugh about the videoconferences where the person has on a nice pretty dress shirt but might be in shorts and flip-flops. You dress for success and your videoconferences should be successful. You never know when you have to get up or adjust camera angles. Oh by the way, if you are into green screening, do not wear a green shirt!
Be sure to test your microphone (use the tools in your videoconferencing software) to make sure that appropriate audio is being sent. Once you’ve entered the videoconference, always do a mic check to make sure everyone can hear you. Poor audio communication affects clarity of the message you want to convey.
Yes I realize that on the screen, your name usually will appear with your video. But that is not always the case. If you’re in a group call, be sure to introduce yourself before you speak. You may not realize it, but many videoconferencing suites have automatic switching that will change the view of your participants to the person talking. Also, people who attend the videoconference by telephone don’t have the luxury of seeing you. Always be polite and introduce yourself before you begin speaking.
I know it’s tempting to glance down at your phone, your tablet, or your email program on your screen or even surf the web during the videoconference. But, that is rude and participants can tell if you’re not focused on the videoconference. Avoid multitasking and maintain focus on the videoconference.
Your videoconferencing facility should convey a professional environment. Wall art or other decorations should not be a distraction. Does your room look like a college dorm room with paper stacked on the desk, items placed on the floor or other distracting issues? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a videoconference and I spent my time looking at the participants desk and saying multiple coffee mugs, half eaten sandwiches and trash scattered around the desk. Present a professional view in the videoconference.
And Number 1
When you are talking, consider looking into the camera instead of watching yourself on the screen. It will help others on the call feel like you’re 100% engaged and part of the videoconference.
That’s it! It is important to always remember that during these times, videoconferences are essentially in-person interactions that facilitate communication more effectively and allow you to convey your messages in an effective manner.