It looks like remote work is here to stay. Just a year ago, this was not a direction companies were willing to move in but it is quickly becoming the norm. And with that, has come the reality of being on multiple video conference calls throughout the week in order to stay in touch and get projects completed. So how do you ensure that you look presentable on video conference calls?
We’ve seen the unfortunate (yet funny) social media memes of people on Zoom calls who have inadvertently been unprofessional while on a video conference call with work colleagues. These are scenarios that could happen to anyone. Each one of them is avoidable however.
How do you avoid irreparable damage to your work reputation? In this post, we will cover eight tips for looking professional when you’re on a video conference call.
Prepare for the call
Prepare for your remote call just like you would if you were going to an in-person meeting. Take a shower, put on presentable clothes and fix your hair the way you would if you were going to the office. This helps you with developing the frame of mind that you are in-fact working even though you may still be home.
If you will be presenting a report or will contribute substantially to the meeting, make sure all your presentation material is prepared. Taking the time to do this before the call will boost your confidence and you’ll definitely be looking professional once you jump on the call.
Pick a well-lit area
Choose an area of your home that is well-lit so that you can show up clearly on camera. It is common for people to make all kinds of mistakes when it comes to lighting up their faces on a video conference call.
For instance, don’t sit with a light source behind you. If you sit facing the camera of your phone or computer with a window or lamp behind you, it will cast a shadow and you will not be visible on camera. Instead, position yourself in such a way that the light source is in front of you. The source will light up your face so you show up clearly on your camera.
If you’re taking the call during the day, facing a window with daylight pouring through is helpful. If you don’t have access to a window with daylight, a table light or a room that has incandescent light bulbs turned on will work.
Sit up right
Your kindergarten teacher was right. Sitting up right makes you look more serious, and presentable on video conference calls. A slouched sitting position usually communicates boredom or disinterest.
Thus, as much as possible, sit upright and with your face facing the camera directly while on a video conference call for work.
Do away with distracting devices
During your video conference call, it’s important to turn off cell phones and other distracting devices unless you need these to be on in case of an emergency.
While it may seem like a 30 second interruption from your phone is no big deal, it does interrupt the flow of a meeting that is already virtual. For some people, it could take them a few minutes to recover from the interruption enough to get back to paying attention to what was going on before.
By the time they catch up, they might have already lost 5 minutes of information. This ends up being expensive for you as a team member and for the company at large.
If you are not speaking, mute yourself
This rule is helpful whether there is noise in your background or not. The microphones on our computers, phones and tablets are powerful. They pick up on the faintest sounds and that could be distracting and annoying during a meeting.
Unmuting yourself to start out will reduce these distractions.
And here’s an easy way to unmute yourself in case you’re called upon to speak – if you are using a computer, hold down the space bar to unmute yourself temporarily.
Make sure your computer/phone is fully charged before your meeting
To reduce how many times you have to excuse yourself from your meeting, make sure your computer or phone is fully charged before your meeting.
This also ensures that you don’t miss crucial information or don’t look rude for just dropping out of the meeting suddenly.
Keep kids and animals out. If you can.
This tip is not always possible. For a single parent with younger children who may not be able to stay safe while mom or dad is on a call, it is unlikely that you will be able to keep them out of the room. The same applies to pets you may have.
Our tip here – do your best with your situation. If you can keep them out of the room where you’re taking the call, it is helpful.
If all you can do is keep the call muted when you’re not speaking, go with that.
Get hydration close by so you don’t have to get up during the meeting
Get water, coffee or other hydration close by so you don’t have to get up and distract yourself during your meeting.
Having a drink close by can also help you stay alert during the meeting.