Everyone can recognize the symptoms of a bad video conference: choppy connection, fuzzy or echoing audio, poor lighting, distracted attendees. Though it was once touted as the communication method of the future, video calling is often seen as the least efficient way to exchange information. In an office setting, a video conference can be a powerful tool for organizing teams and accomplishing goals — but few people understand how to make a video call work well.
Get Comfortable in Front of a Camera
If you aren’t accustomed to seeing yourself sit, smile, talk, and perform other actions, being in front of a camera can be a distracting and distressing experience. As soon as the video call begins, you might clam up, over-emote, or otherwise behave in atypical ways. Psychologists call this response “objective self-awareness,” and it happens to everyone in varying degrees.
To overcome this reaction, you should strive to be more comfortable with how you look and act. First, you should spend more time in front of a mirror or video camera. Though it might feel vain, you should assess how you look from every angle, using every expression. You should practice having conversations, noticing how your face and hands move as you speak. Over time, the sight of yourself will become more familiar, and you should feel less uncomfortable when the camera clicks on.
Acquire the Right Tech to Support Your Conference
Even if you aren’t worrying about why your nose looks crooked or why your hands keep flying up when you talk, the video itself can be distracting if you don’t have the right technology to support video conferences. The most important element of a successful video call is a strong network; sending and receiving video requires large amounts of bandwidth, and without the requisite space, your video will stutter, jump, and be near-incomprehensible. Additionally, you need high-quality microphones, cameras, and screens to ensure everything is seen and heard.
If your business plans to engage in frequent video calls, you should utilize the expertise of a trustworthy communications business. Cisco conferencing provides all the services you need for seamless video calls, from sturdy integration with your network to compatibility with various devices. You don’t need to make your conferencing tech complicated — you just need to make it right.
Test the Tech Before You Call
The slightest bump can jostle a camera out of alignment; a loose wire can mute your entire conversation. Before you make a video call to anyone, let alone an important client or business partner, you should test out your conferencing equipment. Most conferencing services provide test connections, which will tell you whether your video and audio are functioning and whether your network is appropriately stable. By checking and double-checking your tech, you can avoid wasting time troubleshooting during your call, and you can get straight to business.
Stage Your Conference Environment
Your tech might be in proper working order, but if your environment isn’t right, the video conference still might not go perfectly. Here are a few important staging tips to improve the look and feel of your space:
- Clean up. If your desk is covered in coffee mugs, dirty plates, crumpled papers, and more, your call recipients will notice. You want your space to be sparkling clean to prove that your business is professional.
- Choose your lights carefully. Overhead lighting is the least flattering; it makes a room look flat and colorless. Instead, you should keep your lighting at eye-level from the front or side. Additionally, you should avoid mixing your natural and artificial light, which could create odd effects on video.
- Decorate tastefully. You don’t want the artwork behind you to be more interesting than what you have to say. While your conferencing space shouldn’t be utterly bare, the decorations you choose should be appropriate for your business and not distracting.
If possible, you might consider setting aside a room expressly for video conferencing. Then, you can control its lighting, décor, and cleanliness at all times, avoiding a potentially embarrassing call.
Look Alive and Focused
During voice calls, no one can see what you are doing. Thus, you might fidget, check emails, play with your phone, or perform other tasks while you talk. During video calls, the other party watches everything you do, so it is critical that you look attentive and engaged in the conversation.
It’s easy to tell when someone isn’t paying attention, especially over a video call. During the call, you should mute and hide your phone, keep your eyes glued to the screen, and continuously remind yourself to listen to the other party. Then, you should get the most out of your video conference experience.