For millions of workers, including our team here at Ignite Spot, videoconferencing has become as common as a phone call. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that in the last two years I’ve made more business-related video calls than traditional phone calls. Skype alone has a reported 300 million active monthly users.
And yet, technical difficulties and bad videoconference etiquette still abound. Just the other day I was on a video conference that was delayed ten minutes because the host had to restart his computer. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it might have been if the call was with a busy, important client.
Whether you’re conducting a video interview with a job candidate or pitching a new account, presentation matters! Sail smoothly through your next videoconference and avoid technical issues that make you look like a rookie by following these tips.
Try It First
Never, ever assume the technology is going to work right the first time. Go with a software you’ve used before and are comfortable with, especially for important video engagements like a client pitch or a live webinar.
The same goes for new devices; right before your video call is not the ideal time to boot up your brand new laptop or install a new microphone.
Whenever possible, have a coworker stand in as the other party and check the call system you’ll be using with an actual test call ahead of the real one.
While it’s common sense to look your best when you’ll be appearing on camera, it’s easy to forget the other star of the screencast: your space. I work from home, and getting caught in the middle of my not-so-neat workspace is a constant videoconferencing faux pas of mine.
Whether it’s one too many coffee mugs at the corner of the screen or a towel tossed over the back of a nearby chair, these small but distracting details matter. You want to make your best impression; don’t let an untidy space reflect poorly on your professional image.
Reboot Your Computer, Open The Program Ahead Of Time
Isn’t it funny how computers always seem to pick the worst possible moment to require an update? Avoid interruptions and annoying lags in speed by restarting your machine 30 minutes before your call’s scheduled start time.
Once your computer is up and running, open the program itself, too. I love Skype, but I swear it requires an update every single time I open it. Be courteous to the other participants on your call by being up-to-date and ready to go when the call begins.
Grab A Drink And A Kleenex
One of the most challenging things about a video call is being tethered in one spot for the call’s duration. You can’t step out to blow your nose or visit the water cooler.
So, settle in for the long haul by having a full glass of water and a few Kleenex nearby. Helpful hint: if you’re about to sneeze or make another distracting noise, mute your microphone first.
Look Up Into The Camera
This is a little-known trick that can make a dramatic difference in how you look on camera: look up at the camera instead of down into it.
Photographers regularly advise high-profile subjects to use this angle when being photographed because it’s more flattering than being shot from below (which can result in an unintentional but embarrassing up-the-nose shot!).
Here’s an example of the difference as showcased in The Daily Mail.
If you have a webcam, simply position it a few inches higher than your eye level. If you’re using a laptop, stack it on some books to raise the camera from under your chin.
Have Headphones On Hand
Nothing’s worse than being on a group videoconference where someone’s speakers are causing a headache-inducing audio feedback loop. Sometimes, a computer’s built-in mic picks up the sound coming out of the speakers and re-broadcasts it back to the entire group, causing a distracting echo.
Avoid being that guy by having headphones with a built-in microphone handy. It’ll make sure you’re not the one causing the annoying echo effect!
Prevent Surprise Visitors
This video of two kids interrupting their dad’s live BBC interview will never stop being funny. He handled it like a champ, but could have easily avoided the interruption by locking his office door!
If you’ve got little ones around, ensure they can’t make a surprise appearance during your call. The same goes for pets, who—at least in my house—seem to know when the video monitor is on and take it as a cue to go totally bonkers.
Shut and lock your office door. Set the kids up with something to keep them busy. Put pets in a separate room. Put a note on the door that asks the UPS guy not to ring the doorbell.
By doing some light prep work ahead of time and keeping your call free from distractions, you’ll make a good impression and look like the professional you are.
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