How to Video Conference Like a Pro: Tips and Tricks for Being Your Best On Camera
Many factors are driving the growing popularity of video conferencing, including increased social distancing, the convenience it provides, and the time and money it saves in industries such as healthcare and education. In 2020, the market was valued at $4.21 billion, and it is estimated that video conferencing and associated technology will continue their growth well into 2028.
Business is yet another industry taking advantage of video conferencing. Companies use teleconferencing for a variety of meetings, interviews, and networking events. Video conferencing lets you interact with others virtually, regardless of their physical location. It enhances communication, fosters trust in business negotiations, allows you to hire skilled individuals, and runs operations more effectively. All of which are essential assets for today's expanding businesses.
Conducting a successful video conference is becoming a valuable skill as it creeps more and more into our personal and professional lives. Fine-tuning these skills will be essential in getting a job, communicating with others, and many more virtual interactions.
Attend Every Video Conference When Able
Like most life skills, video conference skills are built over time with practice. The more you engage in the practice of video conferencing, the better you will get at it and the less uncomfortable you will ultimately feel. This advice holds true for anyone who wants to have successful interactions through video conference calls. Look for some opportunities to hop on a video conference and practice your skills, such as:
- Monthly team meetings;
- Department meetings;
- One-on-one chats with managers, clients, and vendors;
- Training sessions for new employees.
The more video conferences you attend, the more you'll feel comfortable and confident in your ability to hold your own even in the most complex of situations.
Be Conscious of Your Background
The background and environment you conduct a video conference in is a reflection of yourself. If you are in a professional business meeting, it would be wise to have a clean background. This may entail cleaning up your background of any trash and clutter, and keeping personal items out of sight.
An ideal professional background for a video conference might include:
- A clean desk or table;
- A subtle wall color;
- A bookshelf;
- Other minimalistic and professional background items that help bring attention to you.
Although you should keep your background generally clean, feel free to personalize the background to match your individuality and interests.
Green Screen Tricks for Video Conferencing
If you don’t have the time to optimize your background in person, you can always opt for a digital solution like a green screen for a video conference. Greenscreens are affordable and can be purchased from a variety of retailers.
Whether you want your background to be silly or professional, there are plenty of choices that can provide the desirable impression or tone on your video conference. Green screen backgrounds like a beach or a sky with clouds may provide a more relaxed feel, whereas a classroom background or a concert hall may be perceived as more professional.
Check Your Internet Connection and Equipment Ahead of Time
There are plenty of ways you can control your audience’s impression of you during your video conference. However, some things may be out of your control such as technical difficulties. The best way to avoid these difficulties is to check for them beforehand during test videos.
Low internet speeds can cause freezing and other lag-related interruptions, so always opt for reliable internet service beforehand. In addition, if you have a low-quality camera, microphone, or headphones, it may be time to upgrade your equipment.
Dress the Part
It’s critical to dress appropriately for each kind of video conference you may participate in. For interviews, it will be prudent to dress up in business casual attire or better. For one-on-one meetings, you can wear something more casual. When you’re not meeting in person, how you dress can inspire conversations, help form connections, and discovered shared interests.
Most video conferences only show the upper portion of your body, so your choice of shirts, hats, hairstyles, and any accessories (jewelry, glasses, nail polish, etc.) will be front and center. You can buy a variety of hats and accessories to wear to help highlight your style and personality. Try wearing an athletic cap in more casual or relaxed settings if you’re looking to tie your outfit together. You could also consider completing the look with a larger baseball-style dad hat. If you are looking to give off more sophisticated or edgy vibes, you can always go with a classy newsboy hat during a video conference.
Engage in the Conversation
No one enjoys feeling like they’re being talked at instead of talked to for an entire meeting. For any conference, it will facilitate better communication if you foster the meeting as an engaging conversation rather than a lecture.
This can include asking questions, sharing stories and personal anecdotes, and offering unique observations and perspectives on things. Engaging in conversations will help build relationships with your peers, coworkers, and anyone you speak to during the conference call.
Look Into the Camera When Speaking
Just as you would in person, eye contact is essential for any kind of connection with your audience. The best way to do this through a live video conference is to focus on looking at the camera instead of their screen. This can allow others participating in the call to engage with you better and make conversations more natural. It will also help those on the other end of the conference understand that you speak directly to them.
Staying engaged and nodding while looking at the speaker will let them know that you are fully listening to them. While speaking, looking into the camera will keep your audience's attention, making sure everything you are saying is being heard.
Pay Attention to the Lighting in the Room
Lighting is effective in improving the quality of your video conferences. Now that video conferencing is becoming more popular, this needs to be taken into consideration. You can avoid bad lighting by making sure there is plenty of light shining in the room, so you aren't cast in shadows.
Avoid utilizing lights behind you, or else your face will be obscured by shadow. If you can position yourself in agreeable natural lighting, that's great. You can also purchase lighting fixtures and kits that will allow you to adjust lighting around your workspace.
Record Calls to Review Later On
Similar to practicing a speech in the mirror, looking back on yourself during a recorded video conference can help you determine what ways you can improve your calls. Examine your body language, voice, flow of thought, and eye contact to determine if you need to work on any of these things.
Reviewing previously recorded video conferences also will give you a chance to recall what was said in the meeting. This can help refresh your memory of business operations, processes, interviewees, and more.
Distractions, though some might be natural and unavoidable, can take away your audience’s attention from you and can make you lose your focus. Even if you’ve already optimized your background, distractions can easily occur if you haven’t taken the proper precautions.
Make sure your environment is free from distracting sights and sounds. This includes not having a TV visible or audible, setting your phone on silent and out of the room, and making sure pets and children are out of the room or at least not making noise.
Take some time before every video conference to assess what might be a distraction to you and your audience, and eliminate them from your meeting.
Set an Agenda
Some video conferences can get off track, and some may fail to address what the meeting was set up for entirely. One way to prevent this is by setting a plan for each video conference. An agenda can help keep the discussion focused and help create a more productive video conference.
Prepare the main talking points of your meeting in advance. You may write down a list of pain points to address, coworkers to check in on, and accomplishments you wish to celebrate. Then mention these points throughout the video conference. Once everyone has had a chance to speak or discuss the main talking points, it will be easier to draw the meeting to a close.
Some companies set an agenda by using presentations for their video conferences. This is a great way to keep people engaged and on track. Consider Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides to make a presentation that can contribute to a successful meeting.
Treat It the Same As An In-Person Meeting
Just because a meeting is virtual doesn't mean you shouldn't treat it as an in-person meeting. Be punctual and prepared to avoid wasting the participants' time. Dress for the occasion, and engage with others in the conference. Use the correct posture and body language when engaging with your colleagues.
To get the most out of your virtual meeting, it is imperative that you prepare, dress for the occasion, and treat it just as seriously and carefully as if it were an in-person meeting. It can be easy to slack off on some of these details, but they will make the meeting more effective and efficient as a whole. Remembering these simple details can help make for a smoother, more productive video conference.