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Crushing Video Conferencing

 

Key Strategies to Virtually Convey a Professional Presence

 

Overnight, in-person meetings all switched to virtual platforms.  Clients and colleagues know that Wi-Fi signals are not always under our control; however, arranging for a technical audit by a thorough IT professional, replacing outdated equipment, and checking internet speeds, should ensure that video conferencing goes as smoothly as possible.

Once appropriate technology is in place, the next priority is to manage your virtual impression – what others see and experience when interacting with you online.  Following these key strategies will guarantee a professional presence on your next virtual call.  Of course, a good sense of humour is indispensable, should something unexpected occur.  Lights – Camera – Action!

 

Prepare for Your Close-up

 

Before Your Debut:

  • Draw up a meeting/training plan or create a PowerPoint to keep you on track
  • Become familiar with new virtual platforms and have a contingency plan for technical problems
  • Test your microphone and position your video camera
  • Reduce environment noise as much as possible
  • Turn off message notifications – to avoid ping! ping! pinging!

 

Choose a Camera-Ready Wardrobe:

  • Focus on your upper body and draw attention to your eyes
  • Your wardrobe will depend on
    • Your personality and what you feel most comfortable wearing
    • Your face shape and personal colouring
    • Whether you want to look powerful or approachable
    • The purpose & formality of the event
  • Wear colours, styles and patterns that are not overwhelming or too busy
  • Avoid distractions caused by swinging earrings, choking neckwear, jangling bangles, etc.

 

If You’re a Participant:

  • Be punctual
  • Turn on your video to add to your ‘presence’
  • Appear alert and pay attention
  • Be respectful: wait for Q & A or use the chat
  • Mute your microphone to eliminate:
    • Paper rustling
    • Chair squeaking
    • Pen tapping
    • Keyboard clicking
    • Dog barking/cat meowing/bird chirping
    • Switching the main video image to yours (by laughing, coughing, etc.)

 

LIGHTS Create a Soft Effect

 

  • Avoid:
    • Having your back to a strong source of light (your face will not be visible)
    • Facing a bright light (you will squint and appear washed out)
    • Facing a bright light with a window blind half-way down (the lower part of your face will be washed out and the upper will be dark)
    • Having a strong light coming from one side of you
    • Sitting directly under a ceiling light to avoid shadows on your face
    • Using a dark room, unless you want to be mysterious or incognito
  • Instead:
    • Face the window, lower a blind all the way and turn on a soft light in front of you.
    • If you don’t have a blind to lower, then choose an area away from the window and turn on a light that is placed so that your complete face is softly lit

 

CAMERA – Use the Most Appealing Angle

 

  • Avoid:
    • Placing the camera lower than your eyes to because too much of the ceiling will be in view
    • A busy background that makes you appear disorganized
    • An open area behind you with people passing by
    • A view of a washroom
  • Instead:
    • Place your camera slightly higher than eye level (just like a selfie!)
    • Have your head and upper body fill most of the screen to increase eye contact
    • Choose a plain background or one that has a nice piece of art or a tidy bookcase

  

ACTION – Avoid Body Language Distractions

 

  • Your body language speaks louder than words and it is magnified even more online
  • Consider what you want to convey to others and how body language can support that
  • The more formal a meeting is, the more you need to avoid body language distractions

 

  • For formal meetings, avoid:
    • Appearing too relaxed by slouching or leaning on your hand
    • Looking at any corner of your monitor, other than at the camera
    • Any sudden hand movements close to the camera: pointing, waving your hands, punctuating words with a pen, etc.
    • Touching, scratching, picking, or poking anything in view
    • Repeatedly adjusting hair or clothing
    • Constantly moving your body back and forth to emphasize points
    • Looking down at your cell phone (because you will appear to be sleeping)
  • Instead:
    • Ensure that your hair is styled so that you will not be continually adjusting it
    • Choose a comfortable chair with arms where you can maintain good posture and prevent fatigue
    • It is ok to use your hands, but you don’t want your fingertips to constantly go in and out of view, so:
      • Hold a pen in your hands to keep them still, or
      • Ensure that you are back far enough from the camera so that you can move them without causing your audience to duck
    • If your room, camera and confidence allow, stand to give animated presentations
    • Place any notes you need to refer to in front of you, rather than to one side, so that you maintain a front-facing presence

 

Most Important Tip:  Be your authentic self!

CLICK HERE: Catherine’s Crushing Video Conferencing Presentation for Women Mean Business