We are all on video conferencing now more than ever. To maximize our time in video chat meetings, I have put together a list of my best practices from the hundreds of video conferences and webinars I've led.
1. Proper Lighting 🔅
Especially in relationship-based businesses, connecting with your prospects or clients on a relational level is crucial. If they cannot see your eyes or features of your face will make video conferencing feel even more unnatural than it already is. The easiest way to have great lighting is to face a window and have the natural night hit your face straight on. If that’s not possible, bring a few lamps and put them at either side of your desk and point them at your face. Be careful though, you don’t want too much lighting because it will do the opposite of what you want.
2. Where Are Your Hands & Eyes? 🙌
No multitasking. During a meeting, I like to keep my hands a lot of the time in the camera view, so people know I’m not multitasking. And if your eyes move around a lot you are obviously not paying attention to the person on the other end. Being present is one of the most effective ways to show you care and get the most out of an event. Put away the distractions and focus on watching the other person on camera.
3. Great Audio 🔊
Have you ever listened to a podcast that was like “wow, their voice sounds good.” - It may be the person's natural voice or it might be the $600 microphone they are using. You don’t need that level of quality; or do you? Invest in a quality microphone or headset and you will stand out.
Visuals are important but what’s more important is how people hear you. The words that you say are what really what matters and the higher the quality the more engaged someone will likely be. Especially if you are doing a larger call or meeting, the higher the quality makes it more enjoyable and easier for people to pick up on every word and stay focused.
The microphones build into webcams and computers can be great but be careful of feedback when using a microphone and speaker on your computer at the same time. (p.s. be sure to mute your speaking when talking!)
4. Put Their Video Window As Close To Your Camera As Possible ⎚
Have you ever watched a video and you can tell they’re obviously using a teleprompter? This is because the teleprompter is too far away from the camera lens and you can tell they are not looking into the camera. Looking into the camera is one of the most effective ways people feel you are talking to them vs. an audience.
It’s virtually (no pun intended) impossible to look into your camera and look at your audience video feed at the same time (unless you have amazing peripherals!) so I'd recommend just keeping the audiences' video as close to your camera as possible so it gives the feel that you are looking into the camera and talking directly at them.
5. Don’t Look At Yourself! 👀
One of the hardest things to get used to with video conferencing is seeing yourself on camera. It automatically puts us in defensive mode (unless your Matthew McConaughey) and can throw you off your grove.
I recommend that at the beginning of the video chat do a quick check-up (like you’d do in a mirror) to make sure your lighting and such are appropriate. After that check-in, minimize your video screen and just focus on the other person's video feed. This will allow you to be much more natural and focus on communicating and reading the other person's experiences.
6. Wear Clothes That Make You Feel & Look Professional 👩🏫
Are we really in the right mindset during a video call wearing shorts or really casual clothes? Do your hair, wear appropriate clothes that make you feel like you’re going to work, and wear shoes you can stand in awhile if you are presenting or leading a group. Not only does it show you care for the other people, but your mindset will also be ready to get stuff done.
7. Provide Social Cues & Feedback 😌
One thing we do in-person communication is nod, say “ahem” and “sure” and “ok”, and smile and frown when you hear something you like or dislike. You should try and do these things in video conferencing as much as possible. It’s easy to turn into a robot on video conferencing and not feeling like you need to respond with facial gestures or social cues. It’s very reassuring to the presenter that you are engaged when you provide social cues and feedback while they are talking.
8. Invest In A Great Webcam 🎥
Details matter when we are on someone's big screen. Every little bit helps. Invest in a webcam that will make you look as great as possible. Logitech 4K cameras are my personal favorite.
9. Stand Up During Presentations 🧍🏾♂️
If possible, I recommend standing for any sales or presentations where you are doing most of the talking or leading. Honestly, I’d recommend standing as much as possible during a meeting. You will have much higher energy and be able to project much better than sitting down. A standing desk is great for this.
10. Mute When You Are Not Talking 🔇
Your background noise (or the accumulation of 25 peoples) background noise can be very distracting and overload everyone's ears. Just mute yourself when you are not talking or providing social cues to keep the overall volume low and allow everyone to hear the speaker well.
11. Backgrounds Are Distracting; In A Good & Bad Way 🏖
Whatever background you have it can be distracting in a good way or a bad way. It’s reassuring when someone has a background that is clean and pretty. It says something about their personality and intentionality.
If you are not able to do that, maybe blurring your background or using a virtual background. Virtual backgrounds are great but be careful because if you choose something too distracting it can hurt your attendee's ability to focus on what you are talking about.
12. Record Your Meetings ⏺
This is probably one of the greatest gifts from video conferencing vs. in-person meetings - The ability to easily record all meetings. I record as many meetings as possible to allow us to review for ways improvements.
You can also use a recording to reference details from the meeting, share a copy with other colleagues, and provide great resources for training future employees!
13. Make Sure Your Face Fills Up Half The Screen 📱
Similar to the picture up there of those ridiculously good-looking actors, how much your faces fill up the screen is essential. Try and make sure your face fills up at least half the screen. This might cause you to get pretty close to the camera but it will be worth on the other end.
14. Turn Off Ringers & Notifications 💥
If your phone rings, it’s probably more annoying to the other person than it is you. It’s extremely loud for the audience to hear a ringing through computer speakers or your microphone. If you cannot turn it off completely, make sure it’s on a low volume.
15. Keep Comments On Topic 😂
Especially with larger groups, it can be really fun to throw a joke out into the comment section when someone is presenting. However, use this with caution. We've seen how it can be extremely distracting and throw the presenter off their game when everyone is laughing. You wouldn't interrupt a presentation in-person, so why do it through the comments? Conversely, if you are presenting, keep an eye on the comments so you can respond to questions (or even jokes) and integrate them into your presentation.
What did I miss? What other things help you have a productive video conference?