- Matt Oliva
Video Conferencing: The New Normal
Meetings. Birthdays. Weddings. Live Streams. How to look picture perfect, for any occasion.
While workplaces are continuing the transition to being remote, we’re continuing to adapt ourselves to not only working digitally, but living digitally as well. Meetings, birthdays, interviews, even weddings are being changed to adapt to a social distancing way of life and utilizing todays technology to do it. While we’re all very much used to meetings and interactions in person (remember what that was like?) Let’s talk about how we can make some changes to have the best experience for both you and those on the other end of your call.
FIND YOUR SPACE
Don’t live by yourself? like many of us, finding a quiet place to think is difficult enough, finding a quiet place to not be disturbed may be a challenge. That’s okay! Do the best you can and let others who live with you know you’ll be busy and politely ask to not be interrupted or walk into the room, and put a note on the door so no one knocks. Remember to mute any smart speakers as well so they’re no embarrassing reminders announced mid conversation.
Set up your device or camera so that it has a clear, unobstructed view of you. Don’t sit too far from (or too close to) the camera. If you’re using a camera not built into your computer, place it near your screen — it’s best to put the camera at eye level, so that when you’re looking at the screen, it appears as if you’re looking at the person you’re talking to. If you use an iPad horizontally for example, it will look like you’re looking to the side randomly, not the person you’re speaking with.
APPEARANCE & SURROUNDINGS
We can get comfortable working from home; conferencing calls should be treated like inviting your partners parents over for dinner. Make sure you and your place look like you were expecting company. Before joining the call, take a moment to look at the preview shown of your camera feed. When you’re on a video call, you’re constantly visible as are your surroundings. Best options are a clean wall, natural light or a corner - the goal is to look presentable. Some apps offer virtual backgrounds to give you that “perfect” background, or be the funny one of the bunch.
It can be awkward joining a call frantically looking for a way to mute yourself. Like real meetings, it’s great if you are able to join the lobby 5-10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting so the time can be most utilized. Make sure you’re muted before joining and your camera feed is clear. If you enter mid conversation, allow the speaker to finish speaking to let others know you’ve joined. Have a question? Give a visual gesture, or use the chat! Allow the host to acknowledge you first so not everyone is speaking over each other apologizing for cutting the other off. Need to excuse yourself for a moment? Turn off your video and mic, and let someone know in the chat you’ll return in a moment. Not speaking for a while? it’s okay to mute yourself. It will help reduce feedback noise for the speaker.
Drifting off is easy in person; much more obvious in a video chat. Since you’re front and center the entire call, make sure your distractions are to a minimum. Set your devices to do not disturb, don’t pick up your phone or start checking social media, refrain from starting side bar chats in slack - you get the idea. If you’re unable to be present, it’s okay to excuse yourself from the meeting and catch up.
SHARING YOUR SCREEN
If you do need to share your screen during a video call, take a few seconds to prepare before you hit that share button. Clear your desktop of any extra tabs or programs you may have open and make sure any private or sensitive information is hidden.
USING THE RIGHT APP
Zoom isn’t the only option anymore, we have options now. Let’s break them down:
Work & Meetings
Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype
Friends & Family, Hobbies, etc.
Facebook & Instagram Rooms, FaceTime, Google Duo, Google Meet