Five easy tips for effective video conferencing

Chris Esh

If you’ve found yourself working from home over the past few weeks due to coronavirus, you’re not alone. And if you’re working remotely, you are probably diving headfirst into video conferencing whether you like it or not!

You may be used to video conferencing already, but many people are new to this. So if you haven’t been video conferencing on a daily or weekly basis, it’s helpful to just have a couple of tips on how to do this well and present yourself in the most professional way possible.

It’s not about looking glamorous, but we do want to avoid having our video conferencing setup feel like a distraction. When your video conferencing setup has poor aesthetics, it makes it hard for people to feel like they’re authentically connecting with you.

It makes the distance feel much greater.

But… if you can show up and present yourself in a professional way – with good camera angles, a pleasant environment, and without distractions, it makes a big difference.

So here’s a couple of quick tips on how to improve your video conferencing setup.

How To Video Conference Like A Boss:

Tip number one. Always be ready for a video call, even when you think it might just be an all voice conference call.

Chances are you’re using Skype or Google Hangouts, or Zoom, to communicate with your coworkers, and those programs all support video conferencing. So if you’re using one of those programs, there’s a chance that your video feed will pop up on the screen.

We always want to be prepared for that to happen, so make sure you are properly dressed and located in a space that you would not be embarrassed to be seen in. The only exception is if you are physically dialing in on your phone and there is no webcam involved. Otherwise, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Have A Good Video Angle

Tip number two. Position your laptop or webcam at an aesthetic angle. We often work with our laptops on our desk, where it’s positioned beneath our face. But when you’re looking down at your laptop, it doesn’t give a very flattering angle on video.

It basically shows way too much of your neckline, and looking at people at an upward angle is not pleasant. People can see whether you shaved or not or if you have razor burns… And when you’re looking down at your screen, you might appear to have more chins than normal.

So to avoid that, position your laptop eye level. Raise it up with a few books, or put it on an elevated surface where you can stand in front of it. You want to give the effect of looking at someone eye to eye. It makes it feel so much more real and professional and that is what we’re aiming for here.

Lighting is KEY

Tip Number Three. The next thing to consider is the room you’re in and where your light is coming from. If there are windows, that’s obviously gonna be your biggest light source. Have the light either facing directly at you or to your side.

Whatever you do, don’t have light coming from behind you. It will make your face significantly less visible, and you may end up as a silhouette on your screen.

And as a bonus tip, check your background before you start recording. It doesn’t have to be super nice or anything, but make sure there’s not heaps of laundry or a complete mess behind you. You may want to make it less obvious that you’re in your bedroom or something like that as well. Whatever is behind you is what people will be staring at the whole time you’re on the call. So take a quick look and make sure there’s nothing distracting behind you before you get on video.

Avoid Distractions

Tip Number Four. Avoid distractions. If you have a dog or if you have kids, do your best to keep them occupied. And ideally, keep them in a separate room.

I’ve certainly had to take a number of phone calls with my kids present since they’ve been out of school. But I put a show on for them, and tell them to stay in the TV room.

Even so, I’ll say something along these lines to the person I’m talking to:

“Hey, my kids are here. “If you hear somebody screaming my name from the hallway, “that’s what that is.”

Screen Sharing For The Win

Tip Number Five. You’re probably familiar with this, but sharing screens is a great strategy.

You will want to start the call normally, with your face present to say hello and exchange pleasantries. But when it comes time to discuss a specific website, document, or presentation, it’s helpful to share directly on your screen.

Some things to keep in mind when screen sharing:

  1. Keep your notes separate.
    • When sharing your screen, you’ll want to have your notes separate so that you can access them without changing the view for video participants.
    • Unless you have multiple monitors and can have the call on one screen with your notes on the other screen, you’ll want to have a notebook or an iPad or another laptop with your notes handy.
  2. Turn off computer notifications
    • Sometimes notifications will pop up on your computer screen with a preview of the message sent to you. Whether you have iMessage or email notifications, you want to avoid having those pop up while screen sharing.
    • It’s not a huge deal. But you wouldn’t want your coworkers or clients seeing a message from your doctor or something like that.
    • You can easily turn your notifications on and off before and after a video conference. Just google “how to turn off notifications on my MacBook or Windows computer”

Enjoy Your New Video Conferencing Expertise

So those are just a few tips to get you started. The point of this was not to overwhelm you or make you feel self-conscious. But a little goes a long way when it comes to preparing your space and thinking about how you present yourself in a video.

Once you’ve implemented these small tips, you’ll have a much more authentic interaction with your coworkers or clients. And you’ll avoid many of the common distractions that arise with video conferencing.

On that note, I hope you are getting along smoothly during this time. I hope everyone is staying safe. And who knows, we may end up getting even more productive from home then we are at work!



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