In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many of us have had to make fast pivots from traditional in-person meetings to virtual meetings.
In the current virtual workplace, we’re now able to have face-to-face digital interactions thanks to video communication platforms like Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and many more. If you’re still getting accustomed to video chatting, we’ve compiled a list of 5 best practices so that you can successfully navigate professional virtual meetings with poise, confidence and preparedness.
In order to ensure a high-quality video call, don’t forget to check your Internet speeds before hopping into a virtual meeting with a client, coworker or colleague. Although most audio-visual platforms do not require minimum Internet speeds, a weak connection can result in frozen frames and inaudible speech — two things that no one wants to troubleshoot during an important meeting. Having trouble with your Internet connection? Lifehacker offers great insights with its Top 10 Ways to Deal with a Slow Internet Connection.
Depending on your computer’s settings, your built-in camera and internal speaker may be restricted for access by unfamiliar sites or programs during virtual meetings. This is a security preference, and it can be changed in your computer’s system preferences or in the settings of your preferred video-call platform. If you plan on using your computer’s built-in camera for visuals and internal speakers for sound output/input, make sure that all audio-visual settings are properly defined to allow access to your camera and speakers. Alternatively, most platforms allow the option to dial-in to the meeting via phone rather than relying on your computer’s internal speakers, as long as your settings reflect that preference. Your best bet for a test run? Try a video conference with a close friend to work out the kinks ahead of time.
Once general settings and connectivity have been confirmed, begin to think about where you’ll be presenting in your home, as well as the background that meeting attendees will see during the video conference. As a rule of thumb, aim to find a neutral background devoid of distractions like brightly colored walls or outdoor areas with lots of movement and shifts in lighting. This will minimize distractions and keep the focus on you and your presentation.
Always position yourself in front of the computer’s built-in camera so that you’re sitting square in the frame during virtual meetings. Your face should be easily viewable so that your audience can gauge expressions and reactions, an important element for keeping engagement high during virtual face-to-face interactions. And try to position yourself to face natural light, as windows behind you will create dark shadows over your face.
Lastly, you’ll likely feel an impulse to constantly look at your individual presentation window when talking to a camera; however, it’s important for presenters to keep their eyes on the actual built-in camera in order to maintain eye contact when listening and speaking.
When it comes to voice placement and body language, the same best practices apply to video conferences compared to traditional in-person or phone meetings. Avoid monotony at all costs! After all, your goal is to engage and excite your audience when presenting. Be mindful of the rhythm, pace and tone of your voice, keeping energy levels high with the conversational qualities that make face-to-face communication so unique and distinct.
Just like in-person meetings, body language is a powerful tool to utilize during video meetings. Be aware of common nervous habits like stroking hair, biting nails, fidgeting, tapping and other ticks, especially if you’re not fully comfortable with video communication.
Many desktop and laptop computers come programmed with built-in functions for split-screen display, accessible in system preferences or settings. This is a very useful tool when presenting or taking notes during video communication, saving us from constantly switching windows or tabs.
Above all, be confident! You’re already a pro at in-person and phone meetings, and you’re sure to become an all-star at video meetings with a little practice and patience. We’re all in this together, and we’re here for you and your business during these unprecedented times and always.
Stay safe and healthy, and enjoy your new video conferencing norm!