So you’re all set to participate in a virtual meeting – Good job! That means you’re about 80% of the way to having perfect video communications. What’s the other 20%, you ask? Well, that’s up to you. That remaining portion is your ability to create a professional appearance, background, and presentation. We’re here to help! Let’s discuss some top tips for effective video communications…
AUDIO AND VIDEO
Ensure the video on your computer is enabled as well as your audio. This can be using the camera and microphone built into your computer or external devices but you’ll want to make sure they are connected. When possible, try to use a good quality camera and headset instead of your computer’s built-in ones as the quality is even sharper with higher quality hardware.
Test your video and audio before your meeting
Look at the camera. This takes a bit of getting used to since you want to look at the other participants faces but try to look at the camera when you’re talking. This tactic will mimic the in-person feeling of eye contact. It’s important to gauge reactions by looking at the screen but alternating that with looking at the camera makes the audience feel like you’re really talking to them.
Adjust your camera if it is too low or high. Your camera should be at eye level. You should also be at least 2 feet back from your camera. Avoid leaning in as to not be too close. You’ll want the camera to capture your chest up and for your body to be in the centre.
If you can, hardwire your computer into the internet. Sure, your platform will work on wireless /WIFI all the way down to 3G, but the quality is best on a solid wired internet connection, so wire in when you can. Otherwise, just make sure you have serviceable Wi-Fi.
Muting when not speaking is the key! Your microphone is sensitive, and each microphone that is ‘open’ (unmuted) the sound gets worse in the conversation. If you aren’t going to be speaking for a period of time, keep muted, and remember to unmute before you speak. This gets easier as you get some practice, and everyone is in the same situation!
Don’t eat during a meeting and if you must, mute your microphone
Try not to multi-task and if you do, please mute yourself as your keyboard typing may be picked up on the meeting
Refrain from private behavior – i.e. scratching your armpits, picking your nose. We can see you!
Clean up and have a simple background (a plain wall, a potted plant, or a bookshelf works perfectly). Try not to wear the same colour as the wall behind you so you don’t look like a floating head
Lighting is most important! Make sure you are facing a light source. Try different lights until you are happy that there are no shadows on your face, but also try not to have ‘bright spots’ either, by moving the light (or yourself) until you have a good balance. If you have a window behind you, shut the blinds.
Be comfortable! You may be in this seat for some time, so find a comfortable
spot, get a glass of water and close the door if possible, before the meeting
starts to minimize interruptions.
Find a quiet space to meet, shut the door, and mute yourself as necessary.
Have alternative means for connection in case you get disconnected. Have the dial-in number handy in case you get dropped from the conference.
JOINING A MEETING
All platforms – click on the link provided in the meeting invite you
received. This will either initiate the meeting or offer a downloadable app to
install on your computer. It is always preferable to install the local app, but
a more limited browser version should be available if you don’t have install
rights on your computer.
If you can only join by phone, use the phone-only instructions in the
meeting invite email you received, likely a telephone number and a meeting
code. Not all platforms offer audio only and some meetings may not offer audio only, you will need to discuss requirements with the meeting planner. If your location does not have adequate internet it is recommended you mute your video feed and call in (if available) as the phone system is more robust and less prone to dropping.
Most computer apps/browser interfaces for remote meetings give you the
chance to mute your inputs, even if they look slightly different. You should
see in the control bar a microphone and a video camera icon. Clicking these
will toggle your microphone and camera on and off. Your meeting organizer may require you to mute when you are not speaking, so download the software early and make sure you are familiar with these controls.
Your webcam should be detected automatically by either installing the
meeting software or starting a meeting. If you cannot get you camera to work
with your meeting software, contact your organizational tech support to make
sure your webcam is active.
PRO TIP: Keep in mind that planning will affect how well your meetings go. Giving people an agenda or run sheet will mitigate confusion during the meeting.